…To Expand Local Content Scope
Sopuruchi Onwuka in Texas
The National Assembly will continue to protect the country’s investors and entrepreneurs from unfair and unfavourable foreign trade relations, especially the Nigeria’s recent trade deals with China.
The national legislature will also expand the scope of the Nigerian Content policy to cover all sectors of the economy in a deliberate policy measure to protect the nation’s domestic economy from foreign trade domination.
The decisions were the major outcomes of the Nigerian Content Workshop held in Houston, Texas, United States on the sidelines of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2016).
Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Nigerian Content Development, Hon. Emanuel Ekon, pledged at the event that the National Assembly was paying close attention to the recent trade deals entered by the Presidency with the Chinese government to ensure that the alliance does not mortgage Nigeria’s industrial development.
He told the worried audience that the legislature was aware of the spate of public outcry against the trade deals entered by President Muhammadu Buhari with domineering Chinese government. He made it clear that the law makers would examine the full details of the trade pact with a view of ensuring that China does not turn the Nigerian market into a dump site for its finished goods.
Hon. Ekon expressed concern over the choice of China as trade partner, saying that such deals with other African countries had seen China usurping local jobs by shipping its prisoners to work in countries where it is providing foreign aids.
He paid tribute to indigenous players in the petroleum industry who, according to him, have staked personal funds and efforts to recover the local service industry from foreign multinational behemoths that had siphoned Nigeria’s annual petroleum industry budget for decades.
He also raised alarm that some foreign companies in the country have continued to seek short cuts despite the enactment of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010.
He decried the practice in which foreign companies employ the services of Nigerian lawyers and public relations experts to try and deceive the government into granting job and import waivers for expatriate personnel and foreign products when such goods and services are readily available in-country.
He declared that the greatest problem facing efficient implementation of the Nigerian Content laws in the country remained the connivance of Nigerians with their foreign employers to subvert the local content policy objectives.
He said his committee has successfully amended to Act to address emerging challenges in the industry. He called on regulators across all sectors of the economy to enforce implementation laws passed to protect Nigerian businesses from the crushing impact of hostile foreign trade relations.
He pointed out that Nigerian has continued to suffer huge trade deficits in her dealings with Western and Asian economies, a situation that has made it imperative that the scope of the Nigerian Content Act be spread to cover the full business sectors of the economy.
He pledged that the National Assembly would come out with a comprehensive local content law that would replicate the gains in the petroleum industry across all sectors of the economy.
Earlier in his presentation, the Chairman of Nigerian Content Sub-committee of the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) of the Organized Private Sector (OPS), Mr Raymond Wilcox, had cited the report by the City of Houston which stated that Nigeria’s annual trade patronage to the city amounted to over $15 billion.
“Houston is just a city in Texas. And Texas is just one of the 50 states of USA. Now imagine the value of total Nigerian cash flow to the USA as a country. Then imagine our cash flows to other countries of the world. It runs into hundreds of billion dollars!” he lamented.
He stated that instead of shopping for aids that would mortgage the future of the country, the government should look inwards and develop the local economy the same way China had done.