Buhari, stakeholders seek local content, infrastructure expansion
President Muhammadu Buhari and other stakeholders in the oil and gas sector, yesterday, reiterated the need to expand local content development in Nigeria across sectors, as part of measures to address unemployment, poverty, and help the country become self-reliant.
Speaking at the virtual launch of the 17-storey Nigerian Content Tower, which was built with almost 100 per cent local capacity in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), and a 10-megawatt gas power plant by Nigerian Agip Company, Buhari said a recently launched N2.3 trillion fund would enable the country develop local content.
Buhari, who pledged to invest more in infrastructure development and initiatives that would open up the Niger Delta region, said he has already signed two executive orders aimed at replicating the development of local content across sectors.
Currently, the Nigerian Local Content Act, which mandates at least 40 per cent of local content in projects, is only enforced in the oil and gas sector.
More than 10 years into Act and fund designed to boost development, Buhari said: “That is why two of the Executive Orders issued under our government are related to enforcing local content in public procurement and contracts to further replicate the successes being realized in the oil and gas industry.”
He insisted that local content and self-reliance are key principles of the recently-approved, N2.3 trillion National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), adding: “The plan is aimed at the promotion of local production, local services, local innovation, and the use of local materials.
‘‘With the commissioning of this project, I want to highlight that we have put in place a landmark of reference in the Niger Delta to reflect long-lasting legacies that signpost the years of oil and gas exploitation, and I assure you that there is more to come,’’ he said.
Worried by challenges created by Covid-19, President Buahri said he believes “strongly in local production and patronage of our goods and services as one of the surest ways to empower citizens, and give them viable opportunities to excel in their chosen professions and business endeavours.”
He expressed joy over the new building, especially the fact that it was delivered by local contractors, and supported by other local engineering and project consultants.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylvia, who allocated the land when he was Governor of the State, noted that the project remained a testimony to the intention of the current administration to complete projects from previous administrations.
Sylvia said the project was a priority under the next level agenda, noting that the President is interested in infrastructure development, and canvassed the right opportunity for locals, as Nigerian content has come to stay in the country.
Governor Bayelsa State, Douye Diri, sees the project as a show of a strong will, stressing the need to look beyond political differences to economic development.
Looking at the challenges already created by COVID-19, Diri said engaging the communities would guard against hostility, while urging cooperation and team-work among government at the central, state and local levels.
The Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Simbi Wabote, described the development as a step toward attracting more investors into the sector, said the building would create enabling environment for oil companies willing to relocate their offices to the region.
Providing details of the structure, Wabote said: “The ground floor area of the main building is 30,000m2 equivalent to four football fields, and able to accommodate more than 1,000 workspaces for our own use and for the use of other occupants of the building.
“Some of the specifics include the use of fire-retardant façade, intelligent Building Management System that cuts down power consumption by 25 per cent the provision of an over-hanging cradle on the roof slab to clean the four sides of the building, zero voice transmission through the walls of the Conference Centre, scissors design in the ramp of the multi-level car park to avoid head-on collision, and many others too numerous to mention,” he added.