BY Idowu Bankole
Sequel to the announcement of Ministers and their portfolios in President Muhammadu Buhari’s second cabinet, Bayelsa and indeed the Ijaw nation are lucky to have two sons working together for national development: the result oriented-Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipreye Sylva and the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote.
A seamless working relationship between the kinsmen is envisaged. Both are expected to further push for the attainment of the country’s Local Content development goals; and to be instrumental in actualizing the Petroleum Host and Impacted Community Development Bill, PHICDB (from the ambitious Petroleum Industry Bill). This should provide the needed legal framework to pursue development in the Niger Delta region for the next four years, unhindered.
Also paramount among the goals, one would expect collaboration towards attracting Original Equipment Manufacturers of key infrastructural component parts in a build-up for an industrial hub, via the completion of the Bayelsa NOGaPS project.
It shouldn’t be too much to dream of big ticket projects like the Brass Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemicals, Hyundai or Samsung shipyard and heavy industries in the Niger Delta region. These projects would not only create jobs for the teeming youth population of the region, they would also increase the revenue base and economic development of the country as a whole.
So far, the NCDMB which is saddled with the responsibility of implementing Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act of 2010, is doing a great job. It has recorded tremendous strides, making it one of the most effective and distinguished government agencies in the country.
Under Wabote’s watch, the Board has recorded huge successes in the pursuit of its core mandate in terms of the retention of huge foreign exchange for investment in-country; attraction of new FDIs in the Oil and Gas Industry; promotion of indigenous ownership of equipment used in industry operations; promotion of local manufacturing of Oil and Gas components; giving first consideration to Nigerian indigenous companies; ensuring that Nigerian Content targets are met for projects and operations; creating and utilizing training and employment opportunities for indigenes; establishment of the $200 million Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCI Fund) for targeted capacity building; ensuring that local capacity investors have work to amortize investments, involvement of oil producing communities in the activities of the sector among others.
Another landmark innovations and initiatives of the Board under the Bayelsa-born NCDMB boss is the Nigerian Oil and Gas Park Scheme. Already work has commenced in the Parks in Odukpani area in Cross River State and the one in Bayelsa that was inaugurated by Sylva’s predecessor Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu last year, located at Emeyal 1 in Ogbia Local Government Area of the State.
The Board has also pursued a deliberate policy of acquisition of equity stake in Modular Refineries as a means of accelerating their development and supporting the President Buhari government’s drive for economic development through the local production of petroleum products. Azikel Modular Refinery located at Obunagha in Yenagoa local government area is the latest of the Modular refineries the Board has invested in to speed up their kick off.
Sylva came to the job with years of experience in both the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry and the Niger Delta region where a vast majority of the country’s oil is mined. Having once served as the Senior Special Assistant to the then Minister of State for Energy, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, between July 2005 and May 2007 before moving to serve as the Governor of Bayelsa State at the height of militancy in the Niger Delta, the new minister has a good grasp of the terrain. It has been often said that he is the architect of the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Program an idea he sold to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, which restored a semblance of peace in the Niger Delta at a time that insurgency has disrupted the nation’s Oil production leading to a marked decline in our national earnings which are mostly dependent on Petroleum. Therefore there is no gainsaying that President Buhari hit the bull’s eye at the right time with this appointment.
Sylva’s appointment was celebrated because apart from the beauty of watching his Phoenix-like rise from the political ashes of Bayelsa and Nigeria Politics, his appointment as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources underscores President Buhari’s commitment to integrate all segment of the Nigerian nation into a united nation in the pursuit of peace, prosperity and progress of the greatest number of Nigerians. The Minister himself alluded to this point in his vote of thanks during a reception help in his honour in Abuja on August 21, when while thanking President Buhari, he said that his appointment was not just a honour done personally to him but to Bayelsa State and the entire of Ijaw nation.
It is good to note that the Minister has already hit the ground running as he resumed duties the next day August 22 to meet with the staff of the Ministry where he pledged to reposition the ministry and chart a way forward for the Nigerian petroleum sector.