Dr. Mayowa Afe is the President, Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria (OGTAN), a body dedicated to human capacity building in the Oil and Gas Industry. In this exclusive chat with Orient Energy Review (OER), Dr. Afe speaks on the mandate of the association, challenges of the industry amongst others.

How has OGTAN helped in boosting local content in the petroleum industry in Nigeria?

In terms of entrepreneurship and gaining access to jobs, we have done quite a lot. Also don’t forget the fact that most of the IOC’s including Shell now has Nigerians as their managing directors. I think we have made tremendous progress and what we are looking at today is trying to build on that capacity that has been built and we need to go to the next level. OGTAN is the Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria. It is to encourage our members to help build capacity so that most of the trainings that are done outside the country can be done inside the country.

You might have heard about the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB) talked about the FPSO, and how so many of them are being built in Nigeria; it has not been done before. It helps engage Nigerians in terms of employment. Now we the oil and gas trainers arm of this local content want to ensure that Nigerian trainings are done in Nigeria. The multiplier effect of this cannot be phantom.

Look at Globacom, it is an offshoot of ConOil and ConOil is a Nigeria oil and gas company. Because of the capacity of ConOil, it has led to the birth of Glo and look at the multiplier effect of that. If MTN and others were Nigerian companies, you will now see what the multiplier effects will look like. So we are all up on this local content development gain and we want to continue to build on it to ensure a total capacity building for Nigerians.

Is OGTAN really ready for this?

Yes of course we are. The greatest asset in Nigeria is not oil, it is human capital; we have all types of human capacity in Nigeria and a lot of Nigerians are all over the world. I mean other countries that are attracting Nigerians to their country by giving them scholarships and citizenship because they know that we have the capacity. So we want to attract this capacity by also ensuring that we have the favourable environment to attract this and get Nigerians to build Nigeria. And you have heard that a lot of countries are asking other nationals to leave their country, we have nowhere to go. Americans are saying America first, South Africa are saying South Africa first, so we want Nigeria to build Nigeria here and make sure we enhance the oil and gas industry business.

You said you want your association to start a training that will measure up to international standard. Is OGTAN planning to go into partnership with international associations or organisations?

Yes, in the course of this event, I just announced that we are partnering with European Association of Engineers; we are bringing in experts that will help grow our capacity so that that capacity can be retained in-country. We don’t need port folios and those who will just get contracts and go away. No, we want people who will help build capacity in Nigeria.

What role is OGTAN playing towards the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill?

We intend to add OGTAN’s voice for the passage of the PIB as this will help establish the necessary framework for doing business in Nigeria thereby boosting investor’s confidence in this country. We want to appeal to the National Assembly to please set aside politics and look at the future of Nigeria by passing the PIB.

How do you intend to boost indigenous capacity and human capital development in Nigeria?

The emphasis of my team shall be to bring value to Nigeria through the domestication of more quality trainings. The executive secretary of NCDMB always tells us that you cannot drive the foreign trainers away. We have to improve the quality of our trainings and we need to establish standards. We shall work with all members of the association to effectively implement the following goals that we have set for ourselves.

First, we must actualize the OGTAN House in 2017. If your company wants us to name that house for example Total OGTAN house, just give us N80 million and your name will be there forever. Secondly, we are also driving an aggressive membership recruitment and retention. We are also going to pursue OGTAN certification as a certifying body. Additionally, we are also going to properly classify and accredit all our members. We are going to do that with the standard that is set with NCDMB. If you meet those standards you will be accredited and classified. There will also be issuance of guidelines for standardization of training and establishment of national occupation standard. We are going to do this in conjunction with NCDMB and if you are not certified, I am sure with the passage of time your company may have no business to do in Nigeria. We are going to pursue forcefully collaboration between regulatory bodies, academia and the oil and gas industry to help close the gap between the university theories and the practical of the oil and gas industry.

To this end OGTAN is organizing a national educational summit in July to try to address some of these concerns. As we go on, there are concerns that Nigeria graduates are not fit. We are helping the universities and we are donating software. We are also training the trainers of the lecturers. So we are going to train and help our universities to grow so that they can produce quality students that can be employable by the industry without re-training.

We are also going to seek appropriate legislation to back up the establishment of OGTAN through the National Assembly and we have commenced this process. We are going to sponsor a bill on the floor of the National Assembly that will empower OGTAN. We have met with the Senate and the House of Reps and we are already working with our lawyers on that.   We are also going to pursue profitable local and international partnership. OGTAN just signed an incorporation agreement with the European Association of Geo-scientists and Engineers to bring more international certified training to Nigeria. Unlike those days when 20 Nigerians will go and do training in Ghana with a Nigerian instructor, they will ship themselves from Nigeria to Ghana to go and do training just because people want estacode. We want to discourage this. All our trainings must be in-house henceforth.

Furthermore, we are going to help the business growth for our members; those who are just starting we’ll help them and explore affordable funding opportunities for our member companies. As a first step we have already started discussions with our own executive secretary of NCNB of the possibility of having our members to benefit from the 1% training deductions from all oil and gas projects which I believe must have run into billions of naira and he promised us that this will happen very soon. Only three companies have benefitted from this loan and we want to see Nigerian companies benefiting from this loan.

Finally, we will continue the education of our members through monthly technical meetings, business meeting, workshops and organisations of identified training certification. We are already discussing with companies that we will partner with. Prior to this event, we have paid courtesy and business visits to the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, GMD of NNPC, and the Executive Secretaries of PTDF and NCDMB.  We hope to continue in these visits to other stakeholders like the DPR, NAPIMS, NIPEX and others to make sure that OGTAN membership becomes the criteria for you to do business in the training in Nigeria. These business meetings afforded the new executives council of OGTAN the opportunity to interact with the stakeholders on the need for the domestication of all trainings in Nigeria and how we could be useful in this course. We also sought their participation and support to help stop all the expensive capital flight from Nigeria through having industrial trainings outside the country.

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