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Nigerian Content policy and a new government

The past governments of Nigeria have been accused of colluding with oil majors and their home countries to ensure that crude export is not hindered and as such in-country investments not mandated. The short-term objective with long-term repercussions of restiveness of youths, militancy and environmental degradation has turned full circle to haunt major stakeholders in Nigeria’s Oil and Gas industry. Past governments can be blamed for being too slow to implement reforms aimed at the development of the Niger Delta area. However, with Nigeria’s Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan and Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke  being indigenes of Bayelsa State (Oloibiri’s location), Nigeria appears to have entered a golden era of reforms and positive changes for the Niger Delta, the provider of its primary natural resource.
Nigeria is now producing 1.8 million to 1.85 million barrels of crude and another 600,000 barrels of condensate and is recognised as the 10th largest producer in the world. Nigeria is grossly underperforming in its downstream activities, having only four poorly managed refineries with a theoretical capacity of 438,750 barrels per day. Also, corruption and poor facilities management practice has resulted in the refineries being comatose consistently and as such Nigeria is now dependent on petroleum product imports and suffers fuel scarcity periodically.
Why is Nigeria exporting crude and importing finished products? Why are the refineries comatose? Who are those behind the crude lifting and products importation contracts? How can we make it very attractive for Nigerians who have funds stashed away in foreign banks, to repatriate and invest the funds in the development of a better Nigeria?  How can businessmen and companies be encouraged to invest monies from past gains into the building of institutions, organisations, systems, process, infrastructure and human capital so that they focus on translating natural recourses into finished products?
Whilst the PIB is the most comprehensive re-write of the laws governing the exploration, production and operations in the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry and is strategic for increased value addition, both bills (Nigerian Content bill inclusive) must be implemented in a manner that makes investment in Nigeria very attractive. Implementation programmes must encourage investment in refineries, petrochemical, gas utilisation and fertiliser plants. These facilities should be located closer to the source to minimise the cost of pipelines and risk of sabotage.
A nationalistic overview of value addition would address an improvement of the lot of the common man through Infrastructural development, investment in human capital, uninterrupted power supply and the delivery of free primary healthcare. Investment in Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) programmes that optimise finished petroleum products must integrated in Nigeria’s immediate plans. Also, Nigeria’s domestic gas development policy could be designed not only to tie in with Power generation, but to also stimulate the domestic economy, through the production of Methanol, Fertilizers, LPG, CNG, NGLs, all of which would create more jobs and reduce unemployment.

The establishment of functional arms of Nigerian Content Departments within the IOC’s and various oil and gas stakeholder Parastatals should be viewed as an incomplete measure and not holistic enough to fulfil the Federal Governments intent to influence increased participation of locals and domiciliation of projects in Nigeria. The holistic plan goes beyond the oil and gas industry, but primarily should involve a national reorientation programme that encompasses all tiers of governance and sectors of the Nigerian economy. A nationalistic people and committed government would surely endear foreign players into thinking and planning for a better Nigeria and embarking on activities and projects that look beyond the short-term.
Directives and short-term interventions can not suffice if Nigerians are not encouraged to think Nigeria. The alignment of our thoughts and business models to address value addition as well as making the business case for in-country investment based on sound Government policies that are backed by legislation is fundamental for Nigerian Content to succeed. To rid Nigerians of the get rich quick and isolated profit oriented syndrome, a holistic plan to stimulate multi-sectoral growth based on rolling plans must be pronounced at the highest level of governance. National Content must be driven in consonance with the Vision 2020 plan of the Federal Government if any significant progress is to be achieved in the medium to long term.


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