The Senate Committee on Local Content convened its inaugural interactive session with the leadership of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in Abuja on Wednesday. During the meeting, the committee, chaired by Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, pledged to collaborate with the NCDMB to advance the implementation of local content in the oil and gas industry and related sectors.

Senator Akpoti-Uduaghan assured the Board of the committee’s commitment to effective collaboration and underscored the importance of deepening the implementation of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act. She emphasized the need to address unemployment and stimulate economic growth by leveraging activities in the oil industry to catalyze other sectors.

Key requests made by the committee included performance reports on the implementation of the NOGICD Act, particularly in areas such as third-party investments, capacity building programs, expatriate quota management, and research and development. Additionally, the committee sought recommendations for sections of the Act that may require amendments.

Concerns were raised about the status of the Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCDF) and the performance of the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI Fund). The Committee Chair criticized international oil companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria for not investing in the petrochemical sub-sector and associated manufacturing activities. She announced plans to invite IOCs and relevant government agencies to address the need for tangible contributions to the Nigerian economy beyond crude oil extraction.

In response, Engr. Felix Omatsola Ogbe, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, expressed gratitude for the cooperative approach adopted by the committee. He pledged the Board’s commitment to providing requested documentation and effective partnership to achieve the committee’s mandate and that of the Board.

Engr. Ogbe highlighted the Board’s performance, noting that the Nigerian Content level for 2022 and 2023 stood at 54%, progressing toward the 70% target for 2027 as outlined in the Nigerian Content roadmap. Regarding the IOCs’ operational models, he explained that while most international oil conglomerates have downstream subsidiaries investing in petrochemical and linkage sub-sectors, many operating companies in Nigeria lack such subsidiaries.

The Director of Finance and Personnel Management, Dr. Obinna Ofili, clarified the performance of the NCI Fund and NCDF. He highlighted that the NCI Fund, managed by the Bank of Industry, has been successful, with $300 million deposited and $330 million loaned out to 70 qualified oil and gas companies. Another $50 million fund, domiciled with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, supports working capital, capacity building, and Women in Oil and Gas initiatives.

Dr. Ofili encouraged serious-minded women entrepreneurs in the oil and gas industry to access the Women in Oil and Gas fund to make a meaningful impact on the economy. He asserted that the NCI Fund is the most successful fund scheme in the country, citing beneficiary testimonials and the fund’s growth.

On the proposed amendment of the NOGICD Act, the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr. Abdulmalik Halilu, assured the committee that the Board would submit a compendium of recommended amendments to serve as a reference for further discussions.

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