Corruption in petroleum industry birthed militancy – Christopher Akpojotor Agaga
There is no denial that in the minds of many patriotic Nigerians in Diaspora, who are Professionals and have become authorities at different capacities, what matters most is setting things straight in Nigeria; making leadership accountable to the people while delivering election campaign promises to the citizenry. This is similar to the interests of the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Spain, Comrade Stephen Tella and a few other Chairmen, APC Diaspora.
Christopher Akpojotor Agaga
It is in the effort to correct the age long plague, corruption, that has bedevilled the Nigerian petroleum sector, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Niger Delta region in South-South Nigeria, that APC diaspora has sorted out Prince Christopher Akpojotor Agaga, who is well read and informed in the Nigerian petroleum industry as well as a few other countries around the world.
Recalling the problems with the Nigerian oil sector, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Oil cabals and the Niger Delta people of South Southern Nigeria which dates back to 1907 when Nigerian Bitumen Corporation conducted exploratory work in the country, Prince Agaga boasted that if the Federal Government agrees to follow his proposal, contained in this report, the issue of Niger Delta agitations/militancy, the amnesty programme, as well as the unemployment menace ravaging Nigerian youths will be properly taken care of.
Of a truth, the Nigerian oil and gas industry has been vibrant since the discovery of crude oil in 1956 by the Shell Group. However, the sector was largely dominated by multinational corporations until the early 1990s when Nigerian companies began to make a foray into the industry. Local participation was boosted with the implementation of the Nigerian Content Directives issued by the NNPC about a decade ago, and eventually, by the promulgation of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGIC) Act (The Act) in 2010, which seeks to promote the use of Nigerian companies/resources in the award of oil licences, contracts and projects.
In respect to the enactment of the Local Content Act, Agaga, in an interview with newsmen, advised the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to create the office of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), which he said will be a Federal Government organ, statutorily saddled with the authority to formulate and regulate the implementation of the Local Content Policy in the Petroleum industry.
“This by extension is to monitor the full adherence to all the clauses as stipulated in the signed Local Content Act right from the pre-qualification stage through the Bidding stage and during the awarding and execution stages, because the Local Content Policy is to regulate, evaluate, monitor and effect the day to day implementation of every operation in the Oil and Gas industry which stipulates that Nigerians must be encouraged to be major players in the industry.
“This, the Nigerian Government believes will help in capacity building and also enhancement of all necessary opportunities. But ironically, this noble innovation of Government, because it has not been properly handled, has not yield the required results and as such, in a very disappointing way, quenched the apprehensions which are serious sources of worries to all operators in the Oil and Gas Industry.
“In addition to the above, effective monitoring and evaluation of projects are essential and pivotal means of guiding and accelerating the economic growths. However, evidence has shown that the practice of monitoring and evaluation / enforcement during construction projects in the Oil and Gas industry is grossly deficient since it has not been effectively extended through the necessary apparatus of Government to the Grassroots operational areas and as such led to the wastage of resources and leakages which negates project programmes designed to impact positively on the poor suffering people of this country.
“Similarly, it has led to the prevention of the full assessment of projects in comparison with the declared intent from which authorization is derived. This deficiency can manifest the proliferation of continuous stoppage and disruption of construction projects in the respective projects sites which in turn will give a negative impact on the economic growth and development in the Oil producing states in particular and Nigeria in general. Therefore, the indispensability of project monitoring and enforcement cannot be over emphasized and also will only through a perfect connubial attract genuine development in the respective host communities,” he observed.
The Political leader from a Niger Delta community noted that the office of the NCDMB shall be operated on behalf of the President by a Special Assistant who will automatically become Government/ Community Liaison Officer in the Presidency and shall be known in the Oil industry as the Presidential Liaison Officer (P.L.O) in all construction projects awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and all its joint venture partners.
He stressed that this office is very important if Nigerian oil must be channeled to the right sources while not trampling on the well being of the indigenes of the region, adding that the absence of inspection companies like the Oceanergy, Globe Resources and others that left the country years ago has given room for theft of crude oil in large quantities, direct from the oil well. “What these sort of companies do include the inspection of civil construction, electrical, mechanical constructions like welding and also divers. You will see a lot of vessels on the high sea, even the Navy will think they want to berth because they are waiting for a turn to discharge petroleum products, but I tell you that some of these vessels carry divers who go under the sea to do welding jobs which Nigerians are expected to do, thereby denying citizens job opportunities.
“Another thing is that we used to have companies that were electronically monitoring the distribution of crude oil from place to place; from one terminal to another terminal, from one flow station down to the terminal before it gets into the ships. They know what is going out and what is going down. The excuse that people are agitators are blowing pipes is fake.
“What we need to know is the record of what is passing through each pipe, what are the challenges that the pipelines have which will lead to what we do in those, like pigging (Pipeline Inspection Gauge) which helps in clearing the wax in the pipeline. All these have stopped.
“Unfortunately, when these stopped, it automatically stole the job slots of some Nigerians. When it comes to construction, before a company, for instance a Korean company, Hyundai Heavy Industries or Samsung Heavy Industries, want to bid, they will send their bidding documents to, for example, Chevron. Chevron will now inform the NNPC that these number of companies are now pre-qualified and we want you to approve the ones that are qualified.
“You know what to consider when considering those that scaled through pre-qualification stages; firstly, the ones that submitted their community/ security plan, cashes policy, etcetera. Now, just like it is done in every other kind of documentation where people prepare a profile. They go to consultants that will provide a perfect community/ security management plan, then you call it a local content policy plan.
“So, what they do at the business centre is to replace the name of the companies that were inside existing ones with this new one and then submit
it. Then NNPC will send it to the organ that should be statutorily responsible
for this job, which is the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board
(NCDMB). In turn, the NCDMB should ideally go to the community to find out from the locales if the listed company came to you because they are biding for this sort of job. If the people say yes, what did you discuss with them, what kind of project did they tell you they are interested in doing? This is fact finding which these organs don’t do anymore.
“Also, the environmental impact assessment which they publish regularly, did they really do their own cross-checking of the said environment?”
He disclosed that as much as Nigerian Government remains the rightful owners of the Oil wells and are totally in full control of all the security apparatus, it is directly impacted once the problems of mistrust exist between the host communities and the constructions/oil producing companies and this always result to crisis, as evidenced in the Niger Delta. By this, it becomes pertinent that the Government becomes the direct provider of Government/Community Affairs and Security Management on all project sites and creation of conducive environment for the companies to operate peacefully while in their respective project sites.
His words: “In fact, this now makes it mandatory for the Federal Government to be the domestic and grassroots providers of construction project execution Monitors/Enforcement Officers with regards to implementation of a well-articulated Government/ Community Relations and Security Management plans in all Oil and Gas Project sites in the various Host communities in Nigeria. This automatically places the Federal Government in a strategic position of Monitoring and evaluating the sincere implementation of the Nigerian Local Content Law as it positively affects the poor masses of Nigeria.
“Furthermore, is that the Special Assistant to the President shall be among the formulators and also monitors of the full implementation/Enforcement of all project contract Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding signed by all concerned parties. This is imperative because all the foreign owned Oil and Gas construction companies don’t and never prepared to respect the passed Nigerian Content Act specifically because they are not directly in partnership with the Federal Government.
“But in contrast, it is the Oil Producing Companies that respects the Nigerian Content Act because they have a partnership Agreement with the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Another unfortunate story in the oil industry is that the disease called corruption in the system grew to become a monster hurting the Oil and Gas Construction world. This is so because the Nigerian Managers in both at the NNPC and all the various Oil Producing Companies (i.e. Exxon Mobil; Chevron; Agip; Total; Shell etc) have togetherly turned the Oil and Gas industry into a money making machine.
“By so doing, they influence the construction companies to divert most of the various project funds into their private pockets which in fact is always to the detriment of both the owners of the projects and the Host communities. The fact is that every project site is constantly faced with crisis and stoppage of works because the companies are always economical of the truth on matters concerning Community Affairs / Security Management Plans or Policy as agreed and stipulated in the various projects contract document.
“They are forced into these negative acts because of the Public Affairs department of their various client (i.e. Chevron) have Cabal with which they use in draining project cost to the detriment of the host communities which people don’t know until when the project starts and the youths of the concerned host communities start agitating for their rights.
“Also, the foreign Construction Companies are so greedy to the extent of withholding training Allocations, technological transfer and Job slot robbery caused due to the giving out of most of our (i.e. Nigerian) job slots to other Nationals (i.e. Philippines, Indians, Americans, Italians, Spanish, etc.), thereby reducing drastically the number of Nigerians employed or engaged in the various project sites.
“These negative practices are made possible with the support and backings of the corrupt Nigerians, known as the Cabals, which includes some corrupt officers of both the Custom and Immigration Services that the Construction Companies used in providing fake foreign personnel information data for unqualified expatriates to get work permits illegally specifically with the intention of drastically reducing job spaces initially allocated for Nigerian youths in the various project Contract Agreements.
“In addition is the falsification of imported facilities or materials / equipment import duty clearance document purposely to easily clear their goods from the Nigerian Sea Ports. The Cabals become more dangerous when being led by the corruptly imposed Governors from the Niger Delta states who provide both financial and security logistics to their various political thugs which they used in forcing themselves into the Government Houses but unable to provide the needed employment spaces or financial supports as promised during their respective election campaigns.
“In fact, these Governors have turned the various project sites into their individual free Bank of Gangsterism. It is sad, what things have become in the oil industry.”
Ones this office is created, Agaga, noted that the Officer shall report directly to the President through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on Local Content Enforcement Matters. “He shall also always act according to instructions and approval verbally or written from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on all actions he wish to carry out while working in any of the companies,” he said.