By Jimitota ONOYUME
PORT HARCOURT: NIGER Delta Development Commission, NDDC said it has trained over 40 youths as International Welding Inspectors, in Turkey, to enhance manpower and skills development in the nation’s oil and gas industry. The programme, was handled by its technical partner, the Nigerian Institute of Welding, NIW.
Commenting on the development, President of the NIW, Mr. Solomon Edebiri, said the move will enhance indigenous participation in the industry.
According to him, as international welding inspectors, they have been trained in construction, testing, formation and design, adding that they would continue to be relevant to the economy on matters relating to exploration.
“As long as we continue the process of extraction of oil and hydrocarbon in the ground, we will continue to need international welding inspectors. Because the hydrocarbons would be transported through conduit lines and this is constructed with steel. So they have to be on ground to ensure the jobs are done to specification.”
He said the training process lasted about six months from selection stage to graduation, noting that participants were drawn from the nine member states of the NDDC.
“NDDC said they needed people across the nine states and it must be balanced with their oil producing quota, but to a certain level. Another thing we did was to ensure there was a selection process, which included aptitude test. And all who came tops were selected, but in all, they came from the nine states of the region,” he said.
When asked if the Commission or its technical partner, NIW would secure jobs for the graduates, he explained that the new graduates would always be economically useful to themselves before the jobs would come, adding the partners are liaising with the Nigerian Local Content Development Board, NCDMB and other stakeholders in the region to create employment opportunities for them.
“We try to involve stakeholders in this regard. We are also working extensively with the Nigerian Content Development Board. Some of them have also been engaged in Escravos and the United Kingdom. International welding inspection is a very lucrative area; I don’t see how they can’t be economically productive whether employed or not,” he said.
Continuing, he said the NDDC has set up a data bank for its trainees and occasionally push them to the international oil companies, IOCs, and consultants involved in labour supply.
“We have a data bank of our graduates in welding, which we supply to various IOCs that may wish to use their services. We also expose them to consultants involved in labour supply. The idea is to get them exposed to the labour market.”
Asked if there was any relationship between the training programme funded by the NDDC and the one being handled by the Kingsley Kuku-led Amnesty Committee in the Niger Delta, Edebiri said there was no link in any way.
He further advised the amnesty committee to re-shape its training programme in welding to enjoy international acceptance, saying, “The Amnesty Committee is training people for training sake. I am not sure what standard they are using. I have tried to speak with the amnesty group to ensure they follow international standard to meet the IIW standard but for whatever reason, they have been undergoing the training their own way. We don’t know the standard they are following.”
He further noted that “it is only the NIW that is an affiliate of the Institute of International Welding, IIW that is authorised in the country to certify welders in for international acceptance.”
He added, “They are not issuing any International Institute of Welding certificates. I think they are just training people and issuing certificates from the training centres, which are not supposed to be. The certificate we issue is internationally recognised and tenable in the world because IIW is an umbrella body of all the welding institutes of the world of which Nigeria is a member through the NIW. So I don’t know what the amnesty committee is doing with its welders.”
On efforts by the Federal Government to revitalise the nation’s refineries, he lauded the move just as he called on the government to set up a monitoring team to ensure those handling the job work to specification.
He further called on the government to use the opportunity to promote its local content drive.