Federal Government agencies including the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Nigeria Police, Nigerian Customs Service, and other relevant agencies have united to vigorously pursue the enforcement of Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act.
At a two-day workshop themed, “understanding the objectives and philosophy of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act,” in Abuja, the relevant agencies vowed to pursue strict compliance with the policy.
In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Simbi Wabote, explained that the Board organised the workshop to create synergy and collaboration with regulatory and enforcement agencies in the discharge of its mandate.
He explained that the workshops held regularly to strengthen collaboration with key stakeholders, particularly those that are not familiar with the Board’s roles in the petroleum industry.
A former Inspector-General of Police, Dr Solomon Arase, in his paper, identified gaps in the provisions of the NOGICD Act that would hamper the successful prosecution and conviction of companies deemed to have breached its the provisions.
He proposed some amendments to the Act such as the explicit definition of offences, expansion of the parties to offences, and stiffer punishment for noncompliance while urging the Board to build a small team of experts, with competences in investigation and identification of ingredients critical for proving cases of noncompliance.
He suggested that the team should include officers of the Nigeria Police, ICPC, EFCC and other relevant agencies, who would be trained on Nigerian Content.
The Director, Legal Services, Umar Babangida, who presented the draft Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Compliance and Enforcement Regulation 2020, said this is designed to plug some of the gaps that were identified in the NOGICD Act.
He also explained that non-compliance and breach of Nigerian Content guidelines have been categorized into minor and serious infractions.
Minor offences refer to first time defaults, deficits in meeting deadlines for periodic reports and similar defaults and applicable sanctions would include a letter of warning, the invitation of the management team of the operator/stakeholder for corrective dialogue with the Board.
On the other hand, serious infractions include repeated or persistent defaults; and/or deliberate refusal to comply with directives issued by the Board.
Punishment for such offences will include name and shame of defaulting operator/stakeholder with publicity within national and international oil and gas communities; Notification to other MDAs about the non-compliance of the operator/stakeholder; request for the withdrawal of tax privileges, and/or preventing the operator/stakeholder from getting ‘cost recovery’, where applicable; and withdrawal of Certificate of Authorization issued for the project under Section 8 of the Act.
Others are withdrawal of any approval given by the Board as required under the provisions of Sections 17, 19 and 20 of the Act on Nigerian Content Compliance Certificate and Prosecution of the offenders in accordance with the provisions of part I of the draft regulation as a last resort.
He added that failure to comply shall attract the imposition of appropriate sanctions and/or penalties as may be deemed applicable in the circumstances.
Similarly, the Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, NCDMB, Akintunde Adelana, explained that the pioneer promoters of the NOGICD Act focused on building consensus and collaboration with stakeholders, especially the international oil companies who were the drivers of the business.
He listed some challenges facing the Board in implementing enforcing the NOGICD Act, as an inadequate strategic collaboration among stakeholders in the industry; overlapping of tasks by various government agencies, non-submission/late submission of statutory reports and inadequate coverage of the projects and activities in the Nigerian oil and gas industry as a result of manpower shortage.
Others are the use of Manpower Licence designated for Nigerian personnel only to deploy expatriates; refusal to ‘Nigerianise’ expatriate positions after statutory four years as captured in the Act, and non-submission of Research and Development Plan by Service Companies.
Also, the Director, Planning Research & Statistics, Daziba Patrick Obah, urged the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), to enforce the NCDMB guidelines on expatriate utilization by oil & gas companies on land and offshore locations.