By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa— Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has faulted the implementation of the local content policy of the Federal Government, saying oil producing communities in the Niger Delta were yet to benefit from the policy.
However, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Maduake, and Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, differed in their submissions, describing the Nigerian Content Act policy as a success story.
Dickson, who spoke while declaring open the 2nd Practical Nigerian Content Conference in Yenagoa, said governors in the region had discovered a low percentage of indigenes of oil bearing communities involved in the implementation of the policy.
Neglect and devastation
Speaking on the topic, Local Content Policy and its impact on the national economy, Dickson said: “What we have discovered is a story of neglect and devastation. If you take a census of those involved in the implementation and ownership of oil well, vessels and others, they are not from these devastated communities.
”The top players in the sourcing and lifting of crude from these devastated communities don’t have offices here in the Niger Delta. We have discovered that we produce the oil and these other states take the wealth at our own detriment. Some of these top operators become millionaires and develop other states but they breed militants, create unemployment and environmental degradation in the region.”
Dickson called on the oil multinationals and the Local Content Board, headed by Mr. Ernest Nwanpa to assist the governors of the Niger Delta as they pushed to solve the recurrent challenges of unemployment and the rising need to create wealth for youth empowerment in the region.
”What the people call oil bloc is somebody’s ancestral land,” he declared and stressed the need for more involvement of the local community in resources exploited on their land.
40 per cent local participation
In their speeches, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Abdulkadir Musa, and Managing Director of the NNPC, Andrew Yakubu, stressed the need for improvement in the implementation of the policy.
He, however, said the NNPC had achieved over 40 per cent in the area of encouraging local participation in the oil and gas industry.
He said: “The participation of Nigerian Companies in the oil and gas business, especially the upstream segment has substantially increased from a meager 10 per cent before the enactment of the law to more than 30 per cent even in the deep offshore as recently demonstrated in the just commissioned Usan Deep Offshore Field development.”
In her remarks, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke, described the signing of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010 as arguably the most heralded development for the industry in the past few years.