By Paulyne Eba and Ojong Agbor
The State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has expressed worries over the inability of the local content Act of 2010 to fully actualize the objectives for which it was enacted.
The Governor made this remarks while declaring open a 3-day stakeholders interactive workshop holding at the Calabar International Convention Centre CICC, Calabar.
The governor who was represented by his Deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, said despite our more than four decades of experience as a country in the oil and gas exploration and production activities, it is rather ironic and tragic that we have not been able to harness this huge wealth of resources optimally for national development and poverty reduction, a situation he attributed mainly to the fact that the law is observed more in breach than in compliance.
Governor Ayade who explained that the enactment of the local content law 2010 became necessary in view of the country’s urgent need to assume firm control of exploration, exploitation and production activities in the oil and gas sectors so as to harness the potentials of this most strategic industry to generate value addition to the sector and the local economy.
He stressed that of more concern is the harsh realities of falling crude oil prices, obsolete and non-functional refineries, and decrepit pipelines as well as near absence of indigenous participation in the oil and gas upstream, with its attendant result of further collapsing our economy saying that these disheartening situation are possible because the local content act is being made inactive by institutionalized conspiracy and sundry collaborations including flagrant abuse of expatriate quotas by operators of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other agencies charged with enforcement and compliance.
Accordingly to Ayade “Cross River State is conscious of this abject institutional failing that my administration has a matter of deliberate policy ensured that as a state we are the first and perhaps, the only state that has entrenched local content practice with the creation and institutionalization of the Department of Local Content Policy, headed by a Special Assistant to the Governor, adding that this department is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that companies doing business in the state adhere strictly to the prescriptions of the Act.”
He further decried local Nigerian firms abuse of local content compliance not only in the oil and gas sector but also in other sectors of the economy, noting that most indigenous firms hardly make provision to accommodate indigenes of the state where they operate but would rather source the bulk of their staff from regions where major shareholders hail from.
The Governor then expressed the hope and expectation that the fruitful deliberations that will emanate from the workshop will chart a way forward on how to ensure honest and faithful implementation of the policy so that Nigerians can realize the inherent gains of the local content Act.
The Workshop which has as a its theme “Nigerian Content Policy: Rational; challenges and the way forward” had participants drawn from amongst the political and executive class, captains of the Oil and Gas Industry, representative of the Capital Market etc.
The event also featured Goodwill messages from the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki who was represented by the Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye; Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Senator Tayo Alasodura.
Other Goodwill message also came from the Vice Chairman Petroluem Resources (Upstream), Senator Gershom Bassey and the Minister of State for Petroleum, represented by Mr. Bank Anthony Okoroafor who is himself Chairman of Petroleum Association of Nigeria, PETAN.
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