Interviewed by Sunny Lawrence–Oputa Publisher and CEO of Energy & Corporate Africa
Sunny Oputa speaking for Energy & Corporate Africa, Houston, Texas: Engineer Yar’Adua, foremost, I want to thank you for granting this interview with me. Since you are about to leave for the airport to catch your flight back to Nigeria, I will try to limit this interview to ten minutes and concentrate on local content issues.
Yar’Adua: Ten minutes as you said and only local content.
S. Oputa: How would you define Local Content?
Yar’Adua: My definition of Local Content will be in line of that of DPR.
[Local Content is defined by Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) as the quantum of composite value, either added to or created in the Nigerian economy through a deliberate utilization of Nigerian human resources, material resources and services in the exploration, development, exploitation, transportation and sales of Nigerian oil and gas resources. We strive to achieve it without compromising internationally accepted quality, health, safety and environmental standards. - Ed.]
S. Oputa: How do you encourage local contractors to meet standards and be able to compete favorably with foreign contractors?
Yar’Adua: We monitor the work done by local contractors and encourage them to acquire more skills and training for their personnel. If a local contractor is identified to have experience, skill, adequate personnel, necessary equipment in a particular field, we will give support to the contractor to acquire more equipment and also give him a contract he will do for at least five years. In so doing, the local contractor will recover the initial investment on equipment purchase and also make reasonable profit.
S. Oputa: What’s your take on human resource development in the Niger Delta?
Yar’Adua: Niger Delta Region should do something drastic toward the development of their human resources. The various governments have to arrange and send these kids to school. Some of them need to be sent abroad for training. There must be plans for manpower development in that region. The Niger Delta governments have to send their youths to school to be trained in fields such as geology, petroleum engineering, chemical engineering, etc. This was what Ukpabi Asika did after the civil war, as the Administrator of East Central State. Asika sent many easterners to various metallurgical institutions. That’s why if you go to Oshogbo Mill, Aladja, or Ajaokuta Steel, name them you will find one easterner or another in key positions.
S. Oputa: What would be your assessment of the general state of development in the Niger Delta?
Yar’Adua: I have worked in various locations in the Niger Delta. After many years of operation in the Niger Delta, if you go there you will find out that nothing has changed in terms of infrastructural development. It is possible that some people may have bought cars, some traveled abroad or moved out of the villages, but when it comes to infrastructure, such as good road network, clean pipe borne water, electricity, standard schools, hospitals, nothing much has happened.
S. Oputa: Do you think the foreign oil companies are doing enough in their corporate social responsibilities?
Yar’Adua: I think the JV must figure out a way other than just giving contracts to local indigenes of the oil producing areas as their way of ensuring development in the Niger Delta. There should be more and the JV has to look into this.
S. Oputa: Can we get your views on the incessant militia activities in Port Harcourt?
Yar’Adua: As you can see the militia uproar in Port Harcourt has been quelled by the soldiers. Using the army in checking the militia is working.
S. Oputa: Finally, how do you assess NNPC?
Yar’Adua: For NNPC to become more productive, it should be commercialized. NPDC, need to be taken to the capital market. In so doing NPDC will be able to increase performance and become more profitable. NPDC was fashioned after PetroBras, and should start operating like its foreign counterpart.
[At this point, Yar’Adua’s personal assistant signals him that it was time to leave for the Airport]
Personal Assistant: Sir, we should be leaving for the airport to avoid missing our flight.
Yar’Adua: Well, if I miss my flight they will find me a place to sleep in Houston (He joked)
S. Oputa: For sure, Sir, we have a place for you in Houston. Thank you for granting us this interview and have a safe flight.
Nigeria, the 10th largest global producer of oil is on the verge of reforming, and restructuring her national oil body to launch it into the same operational mode like Petrobras and Petronas. The responsibility of achieving this onerous task falls on the hands of the members of the nation’s Oil and Gas Implementation Committee (OGIC).
Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau, the Executive Secretary of OGIC is one of the prime movers of this transformation aimed at making NNPC more business-oriented, which in turn will increase bottom-line and add value to the life of the people of Nigeria who depends on the revenue from oil as the country’s major source of income. Our profile on parade – Bello Aliyu Gusau holds a doctorate degree in political economy and development studies. He once taught at Usman DanFodio University of Sokoto.
Dr. Donald Kaberuka: an apostle of economic transformation...
Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President, African Bank Group is a man who understands the dynamics of African development and the need to facilitate growth in all sectors (human development, economic transformation, project management & financing). He is the 7th elected President of the African Development Bank Group.
African Development Bank is the premier financial development institution of Africa, dedicated to combating poverty and improving the lives of the people of the continent and engaged in the task of mobilizing resources towards the economic and social progress of its Regional Member Countries. The bank’s mission is to promote economic and social development through loans, equity investments, and technical assistance.
Dr. Kaberuka, an apostle of economic transformation has a grip on the nascent Chinese relationship with Africa, and equates it properly with Africa’s existing ties with United States and Europe, thereby giving Africa a friendly global balance.
Every generation has the potential to produce heroes and leaders, who will cast much-needed light towards the end of each dark tunnel.
Engineer Lawal Yar’Adua, the Acting Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) seems to be one of those torchbearers who can illuminate the path of NNPC and the dark alleys of Corporate Nigeria.
Since assuming office as the Acting GMD, of NNPC, Yar’Adua has proved himself to be a man who lives up to his words. He’s bold, assertive, committed and passionate about his job and the industry, which he knows like the palm of his hand.
Only weeks after his appointment Yar’Adua stunned the Nigerian people and the international community with his boldness. The NNPC's new henchman, like a gladiator, entered the coliseum and looked the tiger in the eye without fear and informed the Nigerian Senate in a public hearing that there were immense irregularities in the way Kaduna and Port Harcourt Refineries were sold.
Lima’s leaning towards participative and democratic style of leadership is so apparent in his words and attachment to team efforts. We had sent a letter of invitation to H.E. Excellency Gabriel Lima to be a Special Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker in the upcoming 5th Annual Sub-Saharan Africa Oil & Gas conference scheduled for 26th April – 27thApril, 2012 in Houston. With a follow-up telephone call to confirm whether he will or not accept our invitation, the Minister’s succinct and engaging response was, “I have discussed your request with my team and we agreed that I will accept your invitation.”
Gabriel Lima is very eclectic and draws knowledge beyond the realm of his Western degree in Economics which he obtained in United States. The young leader attended various leadership and management trainings. He is a frequent speaker in oil; gas and leadership forums globally with major focus on Africa and have developed panache for regional economic development especially for underdeveloped economies. In his visionary approach, Lima sees the future of Equatorial Guinea beyond oil and gas in which his country is the third largest producer in Sub-Saharan Africa (Gulf of Guinea), following Nigeria and Angola. As a member of the economic transformation team of Equatorial, and Chief Sales Officer of his ministry, Obiang Lima envisages an Equatorial Guinea where services will become a heavy revenue earner for the country.
Imbued with a savvier understanding that oil reserves of his country have the tendency to decline in the future, our personality of this season, working assiduously with the Equatorial Guinea economic team have commenced the process of diversifying the nation’s economic base and building commercial relationships and partnerships with countries and companies. To meet up the earnest challenges, Equatorial Guinea is investing heavily on infrastructure and training of her workforce. Lima professes a great anathema for the low ebb of involvement of Equatoguineans in running the oil and gas business which contributes about 87% of the national revenue. . His strategy goal is to encourage training and skill acquisition that would enable Equatoguineans to participate alongside international companies in the oil, gas and the emerging mining sector.
The epiphany of this strategy would manifest in the national content policy of the country which is still in cradle and hopefully will come on stream very soon. The outcome would cause more participation of the local people in oil, gas and mining business, partnership between local vendors and foreign operators, more employment opportunities, internal generation of wealth, improved standard of living, economic growth and peaceful smiles on the people of Equatorial Guinea.
The same passion of seeing his nation walk away from monolithic poverty through economic reforms, creating structures and cultures that will propel Equatorial Guinea to become a hallmark of economic success and political stability in Africa, Lima also shares the same ardor for all countries in Africa. The Minister Delegate, could not hold back his fervor to have Africa roll out of the conundrum of economic backwardness, when he took time during the Africa Energy Week in Ghana this September, to commend the government of Ghana for embarking on a colossal development of her human capital before starting the exploitation of oil and gas. He went further to counsel Ghana to cautiously handle development of its oil and gas sector and admonished that rushing the process may gravitate the budding industry into chaos and instability.
Lima in high optimism reveals in the future of his country becoming a gas and petrochemical hub in the Gulf of Guinea. He looks forward to Equatorial Guinea that will become the “Singapore of Africa” – a hub through which gas, crude oil and petrochemical products will be distributed to her neighboring countries.
The Delegate Minister of Mines, Industry
and Energy, Gabriel Mbega Obiang Lima.
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