Legor Idagbo: “Unveiling a New Paradigm in Nigeria Local Content To Fast Track National Dev.”

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Rt. Hon. Legor Idagbo is the member representing Obudu/Obanliku/Bekwarra Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives, in Nigeria. He was first elected in 2015 into the 8th Assembly and reelected in 2019 into the 9th Assembly for a second term in the Green Chambers.

The 9th Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was inaugurated on 11th June, 2019. Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila was elected Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. On the 25th of July, 2019 Rt. Hon. Legor Idagbo was appointed Chairman House Committee on Local Content.

This appointment is a square peg in a square hole as Rt. Hon. Legor Idagbo, who is a lawyer by training, is young, intelligent and visionary. He is a leader who understands what the Nation needs at this time and intends to make a positive difference. Indeed he has hit the ground running to make the needed impact.

Before we get into the action plan and strategy for Local Content in Nigeria, let us delve a bit into the background and understand Local Content and the Act. Local Content has been described as “the development of local skills, oil and gas technology transfer, and use of local manpower and local manufacturing”.

The Local Content Act was enacted on April 22nd 2010. It provides a framework, for increased Nigerian participation in the Oil and Gas Industry. This includes all activities connected with the exploration, development, exploitation, transportation and sale of Nigerian crude oil and gas resources.

The Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010 thus seeks to increase indigenous participation in the Oil and gas industry by prescribing minimum thresholds for the use of local services and materials and to promote transfer of technology and skill to Nigerian staff and labour in the industry.

The local content policy was conceived as a result of the realization that the multinational or international oil companies had significant dominance in the Oil and Gas sector. The objective of the Local Content Act as stated in Sections 3, 7 and 11 of the Local Content Act is to promote the use of local materials and services for the development of the Oil and Gas Industry.

Despite the fact that some level of progress has been made towards achieving the objectives of the local content act, some gaps still remain in the industry. Rt. Hon. Legor Idagbo as Chairman, House Committee on Local Content in the Federal House of Representatives, intends to close these gaps.

As part of his oversight functions in the Green Chambers, the erudite legislator intends to visit all international oil companies and other companies in the sector for on the spot assessment of their Local Content Status which will form part of a National Local Content audit to enable stakeholders take the right action towards achieving expected outcomes.

This is to be followed by partnering with stakeholders to host the first Nigeria Local Content Conference in the last quarter of 2-19. The objective of the conference is to create a platform for stakeholders to evolve strategies to address issues identified in the audit and achieve greater successes in the second decade of the local content act in Nigeria.

Going forward, the committee also intends to pick up from where the committee in the 8th Assembly left off in trying to extend the Local Content Act to cover other sectors such as Power, Construction and Information and Communication Technology as well as Telecommunication.

In line with these, the Chairman and members of the Local Content Committee are set to work with other legislators in the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate to sponsor, on the floor, an Amendment of the Local Content Act to cover other sectors of the national economy.

The ultimate objective is to fast track National Development through the promotion of Local Content in every sector, thereby, creating jobs, improving on utilization of resources as well as transfering expertise and technology in the shortest possible time. This will impact Nigeria positively and bring the expected outcome.

Indeed already, the limit of the Nigerian Local Content implementation is being broadened beyond oil and gas as part of the policy of diversification of the economy. Two out of the five presidential Executive Orders issued by the present administration are specifically in support of Local Content.

First, the Presidential Executive Order 003: this mandates support for local content in public procurement by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government; Second, the Executive Order 005: this is for the ”Planning and Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts and Sciences, Engineering and Technology.

These have shown that the President Buhari administration has an unequivocal support for local content and deep conviction of its importance to the attainment of the national development objectives. The vision of the committee is thus in line with the present administration’s agenda.

In conclusion, the The Local Content Act is important in increasing the quantum of composite value added to or created in Nigeria through utilization of Nigerian resources and services in the petroleum industry resulting in the development of indigenous capability without compromising Quality, Health, Safety and Environmental standards.

Extending the Nigerian Content Act to other key sectors would replicate the achievements recorded in the oil and gas industry through the implementation of the Nigerian Content Development Act. It thus deserves the support of all stakeholders.

Chris Ogaidang
writes from Calabar.

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