Engr. Simbi Wabote, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Monitoring and Development Board
After being made the Executive Secretary (ES) of the Nigerian Content Monitoring and Development Board (NCMDB), Simbi Wabote has number of landmark achievements to his credit. Under his leadership, NCDMB has been playing its role as a monitoring board for the oil and gas sector thus improving the industry. Wabote spoke to journalists at the Nigerian Content Seminar session of the Nigeira Oil and Gas conference that he has earmarked ten-point strategies which will be implemented to boost the industry.
On the aspect of security challenges in some parts of the country, Wabote believed that they do not pose serious threat on the country as oil majors are still operating with significant success recorded.
LPG penetration in the country is very low and the Board is making efforts to ensure that LPG is well utilized and the Act establishing NCMDB is specific only on oil and gas hence the concentration on the sector.
You highlighted some strategies that will used for local content, how has these strategies drive the local content in Nigeria?
Normally once you set out a strategy for what you want to achieve and you conscientiously implement the strategies, the objectives of the Board will be achieved. The Board started by developing a ten year road map which itself is strategic and focuses its direction. Every year the Board gives itself challenges on how to achieve short, medium and long term strategic goals that have been set. Conscientiously, the Board has been following the process of implementing it and leaders are seeing the effect of the Board actions. NCMDB gets feedback from stakeholders on how it has been achieving its mandate which speaks volume that the strategic direction is on the right track.
Red tape is usually difficult to cross when dealing with government organisations, how did you overcome them to attain your achievement in NCMDB?
When you set out your strategy, there is a risk analysis, you will also compartmentalize the risk that you will confront and try to put together measures to mitigate those risks. If that is not done, you will be derailed if you don’t take cognizance of the risk. Risk is multifaceted, you have the technical, economical, commercial and operational risks. Most importantly, the political risk.
For any project to succeed, the one that companies and industries find challenging are the non-technical risk. They can take your time and the non-technical risk bring to bear the political risk. These risks should be identified and strategise on how to mitigate them. With this, there is assurance that the Board is coasting home to success.
In most cases, conferences like this do come out with papers and good ideas but usually gather dust in government shelves. How will this be different with the Nigerian Content Seminar?
We don’t generate any dusty papers in terms of conferences like this that was why when I gave my speech, I had to give a report card on all that was said during the last conference that I will implement and execute. I took the audience and stakeholders through all the ten points that were enumerated during the last conference and gave them an update on what the Board has achieved. To a large extent, I can say that we have done eighty percent of all those points that were set out last year. This year the Board will roll out another ten strategic steps which is bolted unto ten-year strategic plan. There is no plan to dust any document.
You said local content is not Nigerianisation but domiciliation and domestication. Can you shed more light on this perspective?
When people hear local content in the oil and gas sector, the first thing that come to their mind is about Nigerianisation. They want to see all aspect of oil and gas industry being managed by Nigerians and beyond. This is not the whole idea about local content. For example, if you have a technology that you don’t have the know-how in-country, and there is a foreign firm that wants to established and manufacture things in-country, but the indigenous firm does not have the technology and will rely on experts. Even though if they are hundred in number, they will be allowed to operate in the country provided they go through the process.
However, what the Board agreed with them is the domestication base since the technology is not available in-country. There must be a plan from the expatriates that within a specific period of time, three to five years, it will replace the expatriates with Nigerians. This has provided opportunities for training and capacity building, and in those five years, the Board will measure how local content plan has been implemented. This is the concept of domiciliation and domestication.
The industrial pact is a wonderful idea, have you looked at the connecting corridors to each of these areas where they will be situated owing to security challenges and Nigerian factor?
There is no Nigerian factor because security is a global challenge. Today, the media report security challenges in the United States, United Kingdom and across the world. Security challenges pervade the world. Shell has been operating in Nigeria for sixty years as well as Total, ExxonMobil and Chevron. These International Oil Companies (IOCs) experience security challenges and they are still in Nigeria. They hire the risk and they hire the reward. It is how a company strategise to mitigate against security challenges. Don’t find yourself in the wrong place and in the wrong time.
Security challenges is not an inhibition for any country to drive for investment and to create an industrial hub. One the greatest issue with regards to security challenges is unemployment because people are not engaged and youths are not employed. This why there are security challenges. The only way to take care of the situation is by creating employment for unemployed youths. This cannot be wished away and the Board is making efforts to address security challenges.
You mentioned a worrisome trend that if it is not addressed, it may erode the intention of setting up of Free Trade Zones because some of them rather than engaging in exportation of manufactured products, they compete for local products. How can this trend be reversed?
I will suggest that the authority responsible for the establishment should be engaged. Journalists know what is expected in terms of output, if there is any breach, the authority responsible for the Free Trade Zones should intervene because it was established and there is provision to regulate them as well. It is not the responsibility of NCMDB.
In terms of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), do you want to partner with Nigeria Gas Company in Ibadan?
There is a LPG moribund manufacturing plant in Ibadan which the Board has inspected with Dormalong to see the possibility of reviving it. Today, LPG penetration in the country despite the country’s ability as a nation to provide LPG is very low. In Nigeria the data is 1 kilogram per capital compare to Ghana which is about 1.8 kilogram per capita while Egypt has about 85 kilogram per capita in terms of LPG utilization. Nigeria is not even using LPG in terms of cooking and if statistics is taken, the number of death and health hazards due to utilization of fire wood with various means of cooking in Nigeria, is alarming. If we can ensure LPG penetration in the country, it will go a long way to resolve these issues because we manufacture in-country. NLNG produces almost 450 metric tons per anum. What is the percentage utilization in the country? Very low, there is a huge opportunity if we can ensure the penetration in Nigeria. The Board is interested in it, and it is trying to see how it can revive moribund manufacturing plant. For the cylinder, there is a company in Lagos and it would soon commence manufacturing which had been inspected by the Board. Things are in the works and at the appropriate time, we shall speak about it.
With this effort reduce the cost of LPG?
The only difference in terms of cost is the VAT that is being added to locally produced LPG and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources is working with the Ministry of Finance and other agencies to come out with a policy that will reduce cost in order to make it competitive and cheap for Nigerians.
What role is NCMDB performing?
NCMDB is a catalyst. Taking a look at the Board vision, it is to act as a catalyst for the industrialization of Nigeria and the definition of the catalyst shows the role of the Board.
Are you supporting local companies because there is rumour making the rounds that huge amount of cylinders are being brought in to the country and how will local manufactures compete? Many of them do not have answers to this trend. What is your opinion?
I also do not have answers to do that. I cannot speak specifically to it but what the Board is doing is to see what some of these local manufactures have on ground. NCMDB being a catalyst, it hopes that if the value proposition is right, it will work with local companies in order to see the manufacturing of LPG cylinders in-country.
The argument is that the concentration of NCMDB is only on oil and gas while other sectors in terms of local content have been abandoned. What is your take on this as the ES of the Monitoring Board?
It is not an argument, it is a fact because the Act setting up NCMDB is specific to the oil and gas sector which include, the upstream, downstream and midstream operations. But the Board does not have the remit to be the regulator of other sectors of the economy. It is not an argument but a fact.