Nigerians Must be Involved 100% for Local Content to Thrive – Sen. Lee Maeba
As the champion of Local Content in Nigeria, how far do you think Nigeria has gone on the policy since you initiated the Bill?
Well, the whole Act is about compliance and sustaining local capacity. But between 2010 and now, I am not impressed with what has been achieved in terms of compliance, and compliance means that every company must commit itself to the major schedule about Local Content. Also, Nigerian companies have not been encourage financially both by the board and the banks, and if Nigerian companies are not encouraged financially, we can’t do more, because as I said earlier, in ten years, we should be able to do more than we have done in the whole operations, I say I will protest because it is my vision that by 2020 we should have hundred percent Local content across all operations in the oil and gas industry.
How then can an enabling environment be created for Nigerian Content to thrive?
By encouraging the Board to do what they are supposed to do. The authors of the bill put a lot of powers within the Board and they have put a lot of empowerment on the board to do what is right. If the Board does what is right, we will achieve everything. It is only when the Board is not biased, not corrupt, not compromised, that we will achieve everything. So we wish that the Board is not compromised, the Board is up-to-date in their duties and so by 2020 we should achieve a hundred percent Local content across board.
So far, do you see the passion with which the Local Content Bill was originated as being achieved at the moment?
Well, from what the Executive Secretary said, I am impressed. One thing is to say it, and then one thing is to do it. And that is why I am saying that the only way you can achieve all the things he is saying is to have hundred percent maximum participation of the Nigerian companies, and the only way Nigerian companies can do it is to encourage them financially to do it. So, the Nigerian content fund is enough to do it. So, I believe and vividly believe that the money available in the fund can go a long way to assist the companies to build capacity in order to measure up to international standards.
About the funding, what message do you have for the Banks?
I have already said it at the conference, if the Banks are not doing what they are supposed to be doing, it then means they don’t appreciate what we did.
What should be done?
The Nigerian Content and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), should engage the Banks and say ‘we brought you money by the provision of this act, please use the money to support Nigerian Content Development’.
Any comment on the PIB and its neglect?
Where I left the PIB is where it is now, I can’t comment beyond that.
We understand the PIB has been broken into parts?
Look, the PIB does not need to be broken into anything. What we put together was the bill that was supposed to pass as the PIB. Now they say there is PIGB, PICB, PIWB, that is not what we intend for the industry. You need political will to pass the bill; it is only when you have a president that is courageous before the Bill can be passed. It is beyond the four walls of the National Assembly; in fact, let me say that you need the courage of the Senate and the House to pass the Bill. This is because there are a lot of intrigues involved, and so the lawmakers must organise themselves in the interest of the nation, because the PIB is all about the national interest…
To pass the PIB, you don’t need to look at your interest or regional interest; you need to look at national interest and that is why people like me, where the national interest is involved, we sacrifice regional interest, we sacrifice community interest, etc. So, once the Senate and the House of Reps and the relevant committees as a whole are able to come up and re-define the national interest, the PIB would be passed; and to defend national interest, you know, you need to make a lot of sacrifice over it.
Do you see the bill passed this year, by the 8th assembly?
The way I am seeing it, no! But I am a consultant to a lot of them. We are consulting to give them the real injection that will stimulate national interest in them.