Before the drafting, passage and the signing of the Nigerian Local Content Act in to law by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010, most of the local jobs were done by expatriates in Nigeria.

From oil and gas sector to the maritime sector! In fact I remember a seminar I attended some years ago, which was organized by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The aim of the seminar was on how to bring Nigerians in to the seafarers business.

One of the speakers noted that unlike Philippine, a country that churn-out large numbers of seafarers, Nigerians are under-represented in the business.

The same thing is in the oil and gas sector.
And this was one of the reasons President Goodluck Jonathan appointed a time-tested and trusted Engineer Earnest Nwakpa to spearhead the designing, implementation, promotion of local capacity utilization and overseeing the implementation of the Federal Government laws and policies in the newly established Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

However, one appreciable fact is that, it is not easy to grow a piece of paper from nothing to something, and make it a force to reckon with in the nation's oil and gas sector.

Why I say so is because, in January 2010, there was nothing like NCDMB in the country, but, because of the ingenuity of Mr.

Nwakpa, NCDMB is today, a force to reckon with in the nation's oil and gas sector.

It will recalled that, upon the signing of the Nigerian Content Act in to law by President Good luck Jonathan on April 22nd 2010, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) was established to increase indigenous participation in the oil and gas industry, build and develop local capacity and competence, create linkages to other sectors of the national economy, boost the industry's contribution to the growth of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) among others.

Nonetheless, before now, the business of lifting crude oil from Nigeria was exclusively done by foreign owned tankers because there was no Nigerian tanker to lift our crude.

This has been our collective dilemma in the sector! In fact, Nigeria lost about $100 billion in the last 50 years because of this practice, according to report.

Also, youths within the maritime communities in the Niger-Delta were not trained to be absorbed in to the formal shipping activities.

The day I respect the expertise of these boys was the day I entered a boat from Ogbia waterside to Ewelesuo community, one of the largest oil producing community in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State under the control of the SPDC to witness things for myself, and from there to Brass.

It was on my way to Brass that I saw hell! I was unlucky that day as there was a dangerous wave coming from the Atlantic Ocean, as the engine boat I was inside was moving against the wave, the turbulent water nearly capsized the boat.

But thank God the local boy controlling the boat knew his onions! The way he moved the boat against all odds and landed us safely at the jetty in Twon town of Brass Local Government was highly impressive.

Hence, based on Nwkpa's insistence that Nigerian owned tankers should carry Nigerian crude, indigenous firms are now coming on board! For example, the 'Ocean Marine Tankers', an indigenous firm that recently launched two brand new vessels with carriage capacity of about 45, 000 metric tons.

The two vessels are 'MT Abiola' and 'MT Igbinosa', according to Nwakpa, the two vessels would be used to supply crude oil to Warri and Kaduna Refineries.

Not only that, Nwakpa also promised that any Nigerian crude tanker that meets the technical requirements of the board will be used to lift crude oil! Besides, the diligent and successful implementation of the NCDMB guidelines by Engr.

Ernest Nwakpa has resulted in the domination of the oil and gas sectors by Nigerian companies; as engineering works, fabrication, oil field services, well technology, drilling rigs, marine services, equipment assembly, component manufacturing and logistics, boat building and ship repairing services.

Others include, insurance, banking and legal services, crude oil and product sales jobs are now done by Nigerians.

This reality was also confirmed by the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Local Content, Hon.

Asita Honorable, when he and his fellow committee members' embacked on an oversight function to the board's head office in Yenagoa.

The House Chairman commended the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content and Development Monitoring Board, Engineer Ernest Nwakpa, for its effective implementation of the Nigerian Content Act.

He said: 'The implementation of the Nigerian Content Act in the past three years has created thousands of employment opportunities for Nigerians, increased opportunities for Nigerians in marine, insurance, banking, engineering and drilling sectors'.

He added that, 'The success recorded in implementing the Nigerian Content Act in the Oil and Gas industry had given rise to a Bill on Local Content in the Construction Industry'.

The import of all these facts and encomiums on Engr.

Nwakpa is that, NCDMB was just a piece of paper handed down to him in 2010, but, today, the story is different because he has been able to breathe life in to the paper! Therefore, Engr.

Ernest Nwkpa truly deserves a pat on the back for being outstanding in his assigned task by the Government of our beloved country, Nigeria.

Written By Edwin Ekene Uhara [email protected]


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