By Appolos Christian
As the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG) marks the 40th years anniversary, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, who is also a human rights activist has expressed displeasure and said that Preisdent Muhammadu Buhari for reason unknown to the citizens refused to sign into law Petroleum Industry Governance Bill into law, which he said would have help to curb many ill treatments of most foreign oil and gas firms that deprive jobs to Nigerians.
He also said that “The provisions of the ‘Nigeria Content especially in oil and gas industry’ Act may have been deliberately sabotaged by a government that is prepared to sign any agreements in a desperate bid to please foreign investors”, but that “a situation whereby the IOCs are allowed to influence the appointment of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the management staff of the regulatory bodies in the oil and gas industry must stop.”
Falana, who was the lead paper presenter at a round table discussion in celebration of NUPENG’s 40th anniversary in Abuja, with a topic: “Local Contents in the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry: Wherein Lies Interest of Nigerian Workers?”,enjoined the union to invest in the training of their members to acquire the requisite knowledge in petroleum technology, in view to ensuring that oil companies will have no excuses to bringing foreigners to take over jobs due for Nigerians especially in line with local content law.
Mr Falana also praised the oil and gas workers for the efforts in the development of sector and said it was the demand of the both NUPENG and PENGASSEN for the indigenisation of the oil and gas industry that led to the enactment of the Nigerian Content Act, 2010 by the Federal government, the unions therefore should seriously monitor the operation of Act and ensure that Nigerians enjoys the benefits thereof.
Onward he said, “The important of Nigeria’s Local Content Act cannot be over emphasised especially in the oil and gas industry. In the first place, It was the demand of both unions (NUPENG and PENGASSEN) for the indigenisation of the oil and gas industry which culminated in the enactment of the Nigerian Content Act, 2010 by the Federal government.
“And Since the industry requires skilled staff in many areas both the NUPENG and PENGASSAN should invest in the training of their members to acquire the requisite knowledge in petroleum technology. To that extent, both unions should ensure that scholarships are given to deserving Nigerian by the PTDF to acquire requisite knowledge in petroleum technology.
“If not for the patriotic role of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natura| Gas Senior Staff Asociation of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) the oil and gas industry wouId have been dominated completely by expatriates and foreign companies particularly the International Oil Companies (IOCs).”
Encouraging the oil and gas workers to be steadfast in the monitoring of the local context act for maximum benefits of Nigerian in terms job opportunities, he said “It is pertinent to draw the attention of the workers in the oil and gas industry to the relevant provisions of the Presidential Executive Order No 5 for harnessing domestic talent and development of indigenous capacity across all sectors of the economy. In particular, the Minister of Interior has been prohibited from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria.
“Thus, by the combined effect of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development Act, 2010 and the Presidential Executive Orde No. 5 of 2018 Nigerian employees shall be given first consideration in the oil and gas industry.
“What we have in essence under the Act is a more stringent regime which is expected to subject the activities of operators to considerable scrutiny by the Board. The success or otherwise of the provisions of the Act would thus be substantially influenced by the rigour and political will exercised by the Board in can-ying out its task. But unless all workers and the Nigerian people are prepared to ensure the enforcement of the Nigeria Content Act and other relevant lagislations and policies the foreign control of the oil and gas industry will not cease.”