Inspite of the ongoing frustration with and anger over the suffering Nigerians have been subjected to as a result of the importation of contaminated fuel, the country still has much to smile about, given the impressive local participation in the oil and gas industry sequel to the timely following execution of the country’s Local Content Act, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi K. Wabote, has said.
Wabote, traced the trajectory of the Nigerian oil and gas industry before the adoption of Local Content as revenue- focused, with barely little emphasis on in-country value addition, this he said led to huge capital flights of over $380 Billion .
This development, he stated also resulted in an estimated two million job losses to put conservatively over a stretch of 50-year, even as the local content in the oil and gas industry was less than 5 per cent.
Wabote gave this analysis at a breakfast meeting with Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, GOCOP members at Lagos Sheraton, Ikeja, he further averred that the initial directives by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on local content policies in the industry were resisted, especially the 16 and 23 directives of 2005 and 2006 respectively. This opposition he said slowed down the implementation of local content.
It was this resistance and the attendant challenges, according to him that cleared the way for the establishment of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act (NOGICD) which was finally signed into law on 22nd April 2010 by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The cardinal objectives of the NOGICD Act, according to Engr. Wabote, include maximizing utilization of Nigerian resources, that is, goods, services and assets’ participation of Nigerians in the oil and gas activities; attracting investments to the Nigerian oil and gas industry; and linking oil and gas sector to other sectors of the economy.
Wabote stated that the Nigerian Content imperative should be seen as a marathon journey which requires the co-operation of all for that matter, adding that all hands must be on deck to join forces with NCDMB and government to pursue this cause primarily to make sure that the benefits of the oil and gas industry is retained maximally in Nigeria.
He gave kudos to the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers for their support to the board in the last five years, asserting “I do not take your support for granted.”
Wabote reaffirmed the need for media practitioners, especially in the online media space, to self- censor and self- regulate , saying for the sake of objectivity and truth; it is necessary to checkmate their colleagues who have deployed their platforms to propagate falsehood and perpetrate extortionist practice.
“As you are aware, I dragged one of such platforms, Pointblank News, to court in the United States and I am determined to pursue the case to its logical conclusion,” he said.
Wabote therefore urged the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) to help the nation in weeding out bad eggs in the journalism profession.
According to him, some of the online media platforms are undermining the government’s noble intentions of bringing in technocrats and professionals to serve as appointees because of the targeted and unwarranted attack against these persons under the cloak of investigative journalism, thereby tarnishing the image of this wonderful profession.
Wabote said, he believes that the social media space and online media should not be gagged by laws but must be regulated in such a manner that encourages the freedom of expression enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“The free exchange of ideas should be allowed to blossom. However, citizens must not take the liberty to libel or slander one another,” he said.