.Marginal fields

By Udeme Akpan

Stakeholders have made a strong case for the creation of projects and programmes capable of enhancing women participation in the oil and gas industry.

This was the major outcome of the 2nd edition of the Nigerian Content Consultative Forum Diversity Working Group, SWG conference in Lagos, supported by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB.

In a communiqué obtained by Energy Vanguard, the organizers, stated: “Project 100 for women-owned businesses as proposed by Senator Margaret Chuba-Okadigbo will transform the terrain completely. Like their male counterparts, these businesses will grow fast and begin to compete internationally, bringing the dividends home with multiplier effects on the horizon.

“An alliance with women in the host community led by women professionals of Diversity SWG, and its strategic partner associations in the oil and gas industry. The engagements come with several benefits: economic empowerment, policing their husbands/relatives, youths, and curbing their excesses like illegal refining, vandalism, etc.

“Having policies and eventually laws that will ensure certain quantum or scope of projects are set aside for women-owned businesses. It will be a way to strengthen the conversation. Like Local Content pursuit, it will move the conversation from the angle of best endeavors to that of being an obligation on the part of companies and ministries departments and agencies, MDAs.

“Oil and Gas Women’s Strategic Collaboration will bring about many benefits. Benefits of an immediate spread across the entire industry. Having a strategic alliance with women associations across the entire value chain of the oil industry will create an immediate presence of the NCDMB’s Diversity SWG in these areas. The alliance will be expected to snoop around for opportunities in these sub-sectors and through the power of advocacy, actually land some for the women.

“There is a great need to increase the funding of women-owned businesses. From the increase in NCIF managed by the Bank of Industry, BOI, through the Nigerian Export-Import Bank fund, there is a lot to dwell on in enhancing the capacity of these women and their businesses.”

Experts, others contribute

Earlier in her address, the Chairman, NCCF Diversity SWG, Mrs. Alero Onosode noted that since the 1st conference in 2019, NCDMB has gone further to establish the Diversity SWG, launch the $40 million NCDMB-Nexim bank intervention fund and still in the pipeline the Capability Development Programme for Women and Boot Camp for girls in STEM.

She said: ‘’The opportunities ahead of us are immense, but to take advantage of them requires a mental shift, requiring a thought process that seeks to find new answers, especially as the industry remains technically-oriented, capital intensive and high-risk bringing.’’

Mrs. Onosode, who stressed the need for preparedness and resilience, urged women to identify their roles and make contributions toward enhancing gender diversity.

Similarly, Chairman, NCCF/Director, Planning Research and Statistics, PRS, NCDMB, Mr. Daziba Patrick Obah, noted that the topic was apt and afforded the opportunity to take a peek at the essence of the NCCF, tracing its existence to its inauguration in September 2014 as enshrined in Section 57 of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development, NOGICD Act 2010. He stressed that the conference is a platform for engagement by the NCDMB and its stakeholders with the objectives of deepening local content value addition consultations in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

Since its inauguration, he also said the Women in Oil and Gas group has been working with the Board on capturing data on women-owned businesses and female employment in the industry on the NOGICJQS portal and also working on templates for promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education for Nigerian girls.

According to him, there exists a wide range of opportunities for the participation of women in the oil and gas industry, adding that there are opportunities to bid for oil blocks, opportunities to operate within the Engineering, Procurement and Construction, EPC space, as well as in other services such as project management, finance and insurance, catering, medical, training, research and development as well as security.

He assured the NCCF of the continued support of the NCDMB Governing Council, Executive Secretary and the NCDMB management team in their quest to deepen local content in the industry, while encouraging NCCF to roll out its projects targeted at adding value to the local oil and gas businesses, build local skills, improve product-based research and innovation, catalyse the transformation of our economy, increase domestic productivity and earnings, and of course, grow the GDP.
Group inauguration

Also speaking, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote, said he was happy because of the formation of the sectorial working group remains one outcome of one of the actions NCDMB took away to work on during the maiden edition of the Women in Oil and Gas Workshop held in October 2019.

He said the group was formally inaugurated in June 2020 with Mrs. Alero Onosode as its pioneer chairperson, adding that the theme of this year’s conference, “Leveraging Opportunities for Women in the Oil & Gas Industry” is very appropriate as it is coming at a time when the nation is repositioning the industry for greater in-country value addition, efficiency, transparency, and investments.

Engr. Wabote, who dwelt extensively on several conventions and declarations to underscore the recognition of women, maintained that these roles are very vital in the oil and gas industry, thus causing the NCDMB to attract, involve, engage, and empower women in the oil and gas industry.

Also, citing the examples of women like Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Senator Margaret Chuba-Okadigbo, the pioneer Chairperson of the Board of Directors of NNPC Limited, Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, Elohor Aiboni and a woman as a member of the NCDMB’s Governing Council, he said women can rise to be counted in the oil and gas industry.

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