BY Idowu Bankole
Scholars of International Relations have overtime stressed that one of the elements of State Power is the ability of a state to be relatively self-sufficient in the production of many of the vital ingredients for its development. This also helps the state to develop a virile economy, ensure military preparedness, develop quality human resources, which are other elements of state power. Thus it was no surprise that in a bid to achieve rapid development in its industrial sector, the Nigerian government enacted the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act in 2010 to facilitate Local Content development in the most important sector of the Nigerian economy, namely the Oil and Gas Industry.
This Act created the Nigeria Content Development Management Board (NCDMB) as an agency of the Nigerian State and vehicle through which the will and intents of the State in the area of Local Content development and monitoring are expressed and actualized.
So far, the NOGIC Act has recorded huge successes in the pursuit of its mandate in terms of the retention of huge foreign exchange of investment capacity in-country, attraction of new FDIs in the Oil and Gas Industry, Promotion of indigenous ownership of equipment used in industry operations; Promotion of local manufacturing of Oil and Gas Components; Giving first consideration to Nigerian indigenous companies; Ensuring that Nigerian Content targets are met for projects and operations; Creating and Utilizing training and employment opportunities for indigenes; Establishment of the $200 million Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCIFund) for targeted capacity building; Ensuring that local capacity investors have work to amortize investments, involvement of oil producing communities in the activities of the sector among others.
Since its creation in 2010, the NCDMB has – as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, (HMSPR) Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu rightly stated during the flag-off of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Park Scheme in Emeyal 1, Bayelsa State – “being one of the agencies under the Petroleum Resources Ministry that has been blessed in with quality leadership since inception”.
Nonetheless, the realisation of the Act’s objectives to evolve and bolster indigenous participation in the Nigerian oil and gas sector gathered greater momentum following the appointment of Engineer Simbi Wabote, as the Executive Secretary of the Board by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The visionary and pragmatic Wabote came with innovative ideas to tackle the challenges in the sector such as the problems of local infrastructural development, project financing, transparency and the dearth of local content participants in the industry.
One of such innovations in the Wabote era in the NCDMB that has marked it out from others is the effective deployment and utilization of the Social Media as an official tool for corporate communications.
Since launching their Social Media handles in the fourth quarter of 2017 the Board has taken the Social Media space by storm with minute by minute accounts of their activities that give followers (of their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) a feeling of being a part of the Board’s Local Content development marathon.
The NCDMB Social Media channels have not only been a medium for the public to get real-time information about the Board as well as answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Board and its workings, they have also been outlets through which the public get to participate in Conferences and other events organised by the Board or the others they participate in. For instance, apart from #hashtags that helped the public to join the conversation, the Board’s Social Media handles also live streamed the proceedings of the just concluded Nigeria Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair (NOGOF2019) that was held at its newly constructed state-of-the-art Conference Centre domiciled within its famed 17 Storey headquarters building at Swali, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. Thus through the help of the Board’s social media, those who could not attend the event had the opportunity to view it live as it happened.
From the kickoff of the Board’s Oil and Gas Park Scheme at Odukpani, to the Executive Secretary’s visits to various operators, to the inauguration of the Egina FPSO, to the signing of SLAs between the Board and pivotal Stakeholders to routine meetings held at the Board’s offices to health walks and other sporting events and competitions involving the Board, etc, nothing is left uncaptured by the NCDMB’s Social Media team.
The Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry in particular and Governance in general in the country have often been described as opaque. Thus, it is refreshing and heartwarming to see a public institution that monitors and regulates the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria operate with the level of transparency the NCDMB has demonstrated under Engr Simbi Wabote through its strategic use of the Social Media. It is therefore not surprising that the Board has been consistently rated highly by the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in terms of transparency.
Before the advent of their Social Media platforms, very few people knew about the NCDMB or what they do. But today all that has changed as the board has grown into one of the most recognized Public institutions in Nigeria with a very high Social Media presence, visibility and influence which have in turn enhanced their impact in the sight of the general public?
NCDMB’s model of Social Media management and engagement is, therefore, one that should be recommended to all Public and Private sector institutions that wish to effectively connect with the public. This is because, in the last few years, NCDMB has promoted and created awareness on the key presidential initiatives with regards to local content on the social media space. It has also used Social Media to promote the activities of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The NCDMB like other government agencies such as EFCC, Nigeria police, Presidency, the Senate, the Nigerian Army have since leverage on the potentials of the social media to reach and communicate with thousands of Nigerians keeping them abreast of their daily activities, thereby providing a high level of transparency and making peoples oriented decisions in arriving at policies for the good governance of the Nigerians and Nigeria at large.
Others should, therefore, approach the Board to learn a thing or two on how to utilize the unregulated Social Media as a tool for effective Corporate Communication, Public and Community Relations and corporate governance.