Nwapa, emerges Nigeria’s oil & gas man of the year

*Says the Board will focus on asset ownership, components manufacturing

26 February 2012, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board, Engr. Ernest Nwapa has been awarded the Nigerian Oil & Gas Man of the Year 2011.

The award was conferred on him by the Oil & Gas Year, a Global Energy Journal at an elaborate ceremony in Abuja on Thursday.

Speaking at the event, the Country Director of the Oil & Gas Year, Ms Loana Ocneriu explained that Nwapa was selected as the top performer in the Nigerian Oil & Gas industry in 2011 by a wide spectrum of stakeholders interviewed by the Editorial Team of the international publication.

According to her, “In 2010 the Federal Government took a leap forward, making the Nigerian Content Development Act a reality.

“Ernest Nwapa and his team at the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board have collaborated with companies and coerced the less willing into training and employing Nigerians and using local resources for projects.

“After wide ranging discussions with interviewees and our partners, we were in no doubt of Mr. Nwapa’s and the board’s excellent contribution to this nation and its oil and gas industry.

“We are delighted, therefore, to be here today to launch our book and present Ernest Nwapa with our Man of the Year award.”

In his acceptance speech, the Executive Secretary described the award as further validation of the implementation model adopted by the Board, which is creating value, building the confidence of stakeholders and setting good examples for Nigerians.

He said that the award made it imperative for the Board to continue its work with greater vigor.

According to him, “It is important that the stakeholders you are working for and with appreciate the little efforts you are making. One has been very lucky to have the support of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and a very knowledgeable team.

“This Board measures its success with the work that other people do. And we recognize that no matter how hard we push, if we do not convince stakeholders that what we are promoting is value driven, it will be difficult to achieve results.”

Speaking further, the Nwapa confessed that the Nigerian Oil & Gas Man of the Year 2011 was the first award he would receive since assuming office as Executive Secretary of NCDMB, having made a policy that he would not accept medals until the Board started to record tangible achievements.

He dedicated the award to his family whom he described as the pillar behind his career successes and the former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Engr. Funso Kupulokun, crediting him for the turn his career took.

Kupulokun appointed Nwapa the Pioneer Nigerian Content Coordinator in NNPC in 2004, after he (Nwapa) emerged the overall best in the Chief Officers Management Development Programme, (Course 029) of the NNPC in December 2003 and further supported his career growth in the NNPC.

Speaking further, the Executive Secretary attributed the successes recorded in the implementation of the Nigerian Content Act to the support the Board is receiving from the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

According to him, “We have a Minister of Petroleum Resources that is tough, strong and understands what it takes to change things and gives you support when you are doing the right thing.

“Since 2010 since we started, the Minister has never over ruled a decision taken by the Board and that has made everybody to understand that the Board has the authority to do what the law set it up to do.”

On the clamor for the Local Content Act to be extended to other sectors of the economy, Nwapa explained that the philosophy and effects of the Law were already being felt in several linkage sectors.

He maintained that compliance by stakeholders and positive results from implementing the Act in the Oil and Gas Industry will lead to voluntary application of the law to other industries.

According to him, “The House of Representatives set up a local content committee that is not restricted to the oil and gas industry. We are discussing with them on how to template what we are doing and extend their oversight beyond the oil and gas industry. I am also aware that the Minister of Petroleum Resources is also discussing with her cabinet colleagues on how to replicate the impact of the law in other sectors.”

He expressed delight that some industry stakeholders who initially resisted the ideas of Nigerian Content are now becoming champions of the implementation.

But despite the accolades coming the Board’s way, the Executive Secretary admitted that there are still challenges and many things the Board needed to achieve.

Some of these challenges included the marine sector, where the Board’s successes are still limited to the service vessels.

Nwapa declared that the Board will begin to focus on the big vessels that carry crude oil as well as components manufacturing, geology, asset ownership, bringing training back into the country so that huge funds spent on training people abroad will extend to multiple beneficiaries in Nigeria.

He said, “We want to make sure that we manufacture things in Nigeria, so that even when Nigerian contractors get work, they do not just take the money and go abroad to buy goods and service. If we can work assiduously in the next one year, these changes will become as evident as the areas we have worked on are showing.

“Two years ago, we were talking about fabrication, engineering. You hardly hear us talking about those areas now because all we have to do is to create capacity and everybody understands that we have the capability to do fabrication here.”

On why the Board had not sanctioned companies that failed to comply with provisions of the Act, the Executive Secretary explained that the Board had successfully used persuasion, collaboration, advocacy and teaching to achieve success in implementation.

He said, “Each time we come to the point where we threaten sanctions, we have had reversals. When we had a failure and we try to correct it and the people get into the right lane, you do not worry about sending them to jail or getting them to pay a fine. We are not interested in raising money from wrong behavior, rather we are interested in correcting the behavior.”

Speaking at the event, representatives of the operating companies, Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria and other service companies hailed the contribution of Engr. Nwapa to the development of the industry.

In his speech, the Executive Director, Jagal Group, Mr. Manssour Jarmakani commended Engr. Nwapa on the award, noting that the impact of Nigerian Content Act in the past one year had been tremendous.

According to him, “Under the stewardship of Engr. Ernest Nwapa, we have seen a massive increase in investment and capacity building across Nigeria, despite the issues relating to the Petroleum Industry Bill.

“It is the current foundation which every company in Nigeria is building on. In Nigerdock, I am pleased to be part of several projects that are as a result of the Nigerian Content Act and Ernest Nwapa’s commitment to Nigerian Content.”

Similarly, the Secretary General of Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, Mr. Emeka Ene noted that Engr. Nwapa supported Nigerian service companies even when they were not taken seriously by the operators.

He said, “The industry has grown and this award is well deserved. You need to have seen the industry in the last 50 years before 2001. Local Content growth was below 5 per cent, but since 2001 we have had a phenomenal and significant growth and when we look back at the life of the nation, we will see that one of the triggers of economic growth and transformation started with the work that was midwifed by Ernest Nwapa.”

He added that the Executive Secretary has also been able to build consensus with service providers, international oil companies and investors.

In her comments, the Regional Supply Chain Manager, Shell, Ms. Laurie Schmidt commended Nwapa for his passion and energy for Nigerian Content and for being open to partnerships and new ideas while pushing for the implementation of the Nigerian Content Act.

Also speaking, the Managing Director of the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base, Dr. Amy Jadesimi confessed that the company owed its existence to Nigerian Content championed by Engr. Ernest Nwapa.

She said, “Even before he assumed office as the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, he played a prominent role in enforcing Local Content even before the Act came into being. Our investment of over a $100m was difficult to do. And when we saw that the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry Content Development Act was going to be passed, we prayed that Engr. Nwapa will be at the helm.

“He was able to very quickly establish local content as a real thing. Because what matters when we have great movements like local content is how the foundation is built. The management and staff of LADOL, the oil and gas sector and the Nigerian people need to be grateful to Engr. Nwapa because he has put the foundation in place for Local Content that will lead to the transformation of Nigeria in the next ten years.”

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