COVID-19 has taught us to develop local capacities ― Senate President

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has said Nigeria has a lot of lessons to learn from the deadly scourge, COVID-19.

He said perceptive Nigerians should seize the initiative to be part of the crusade to develop local capacities to stimulate industrial growth.

He made the submission on Wednesday in his opening remarks at the two-day Nigerian Content Summit organised by the Senate Committee on Local Content and the House of  Representatives Committee on Content Development and Monitoring.

The President of the Senate maintained that the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the urgent need for resource dependence, not only in the oil and gas sector but in all sectors of the economy.

He said: “We need to also appreciate that our social and economic conditions need continuous reviews for development, with a good quantum of home-grown fundamentals, and especially considering the new realities, brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“The pandemic reminds us of the need for resource independence, the strengthening of local capacity, and the importance of increasing indigenous variables in the Oil and Gas production, and in other areas.

“The overall aim of this is the promotion of industrialisation of the nation’s all-important Oil and Gas sectors, for enhancing the wellbeing of those in the industry and the overall growth of the Nigerian economy.

“We are actually at a time for more inward reflection, through the enhancement of internal capacity, towards productivity and efficiency, for national progress. This is all to satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of the people. ”

He commended the organisers of the pre-public hearing stakeholder consultation as he noted that it “is an additional way of providing an ample opportunity for stakeholders’ engagement, before the main public hearing. With relevant committees from the two houses collaborating on this, I am confident of the rich resources we will generate.”

He declared that a pre-public hearing would stimulate understanding of the relevant bills before the main public hearing.

“The decision of the committees to do a pre-public hearing shows your appreciation of the value of deliberation in decision making, and especially on a critical issue like content development.

“These Bills, including the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (SB.417), Nigerian Local Content Enforcement Bill, 2020 (SB. 419), and the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act, 2020 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2020 (SB. 420), are obviously to increase composite value addition.

“This value addition expectedly developed from within, with the aid of local services and resources in the petroleum industry, should contribute to local capacity building, with considerations for the elements of health, safety and quality.

The elements of quality, health and safety are important because they are key yardsticks in the estimation of inputs into Oil and Gas productions.”

Speaker,  House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila spoke in the same vein as he noted that “Nigeria like other countries in the world must look inwards to develop the skills and capacities required for local production to sustain itself. These Bills reflect and represent this national imperative.”

The Speaker of the House of Representatives recalled past efforts to promote local content in the oil and gas industry with the enactment of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act in 2010.

“This Act promoted the participation of indigenous Nigerian companies in the oil and gas industry resulting in significant local capacity development and indigenous participation in the industry.

“That Act ensured that more Nigerian companies were engaged in business and investments in the oil and gas industry, it ensured that more Nigerians were employed in the industry, it ensured that a lot more of the capital generated in the industry was retained within the economy of the country.

“That Act has worked so well in the oil and gas industry for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians. The passage of that Act at that time reflected the sort of executive/legislative partnership that is a sin qua non for national development.”

He maintained that the two-day summit was meant to “expand the implementation of local content development to other economic sectors beyond the oil and gas industry and thus provide a legal framework for the enforcement of Presidential Executive Orders 003 and 005 and thus ensure that the gains made by the implementation of local content in the oil and gas industry are replicated in other economic sectors.

In addition, they lay out the institutional framework to regulate the development of local content.

“I  am proud of my colleagues who have championed these Bills because again they reflect the sort of legislative support we had committed to providing the executive with respect to government policies and programs.”

In his opening remarks, Chairman Senate Committee on Local Content, Senator Teslim Folarin told the gathering of the leadership of the National Assembly and players in the oil and gas sector that the focus of the Summit was to enable industry players to make meaningful inputs into the proposed legislation.

Senator Folarin said the Bills “seek to consolidate on the gains made in implementing Local Content in the oil and gas industry pursuant to the enactment of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act 2010 and providing the legal framework for the implementation of Local Content in other key sectors of the economy.”


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