Technology and manpower development are very important ...
Technology and manpower development are very important to all sectors of the petroleum industry.
They are the major engines that drive exploration, production, refining, distribution and marketing of crude oil and petroleum products. As central as these may be, the pace is determined by the multinationals and expatriates who championed the development of the industry in the country. This has negative impact on the nation and the foreign-dominated industry in many ways: foreigners are employed in many sensitive areas at the detriment of Nigerians.
These employees earn very high wages and repatriate them overseas, thus contributing to the development of their nations and under- development of Nigeria. The nation which is tied to foreign strings remains a dumping ground for foreign technology, equipment and personnel.
The state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), an integrated oil and gas company with 11 subsidiaries seems to be aware of these. After a major re-organisation which resulted in the retirement and promotion of many personnel, the organisation is set to recruit and train about 100 graduates.
The graduates including Engineers, Geologists, Geophysicts, Computer Scientists and Lawyers would be drawn from all states of the federation. According to NNPC, which as started the process, it is targeting "candidates who are receptive to training and development geared towards the operations of the Corporation." The candidates who should not be more 27 years, possess their National Youth Service Corps discharge certificate would make long term career and earn high remuneration in the corporation.
This commendable stride is not the first time the corporation is delving into this adventure. Last year, 100 young graduates from all parts of the nation were recruited, trained and posted to take charge of various duties in the corporation and its subsidiaries including the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited, Integrated Data Services Limited, Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company Limited, Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company Limited, National Engineering and Technical Company and Nigerian Gas Company.
The reason is not far-fetched. These companies are very strategic to the corporation and the nation as they perform complex and specialised functions such as petroleum exploration and production, data gathering and processing, refining, petroleum product distribution, engineering and gas transmission, distribution and gas marketing in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
This is important in many respects. It is hoped that the involvement of these young talents would boost output and assist the government to realise its dream of turning the strategic industry around.
As an authoritative industry source put it "these graduates would enable the nation to record new achievements in the development of Dathomey Basin, Benue Trough, Sokoto Basin, Chad Basin, offshore areas of the Niger Delta and the deep offshore which is yet to witness much exploration." These contributions would assist the nation to build up reserve and production capacities which the vision 2010 committee said would rise from 25 billion barrels and 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to 40 billion barrels and 4 million bpd respectively by 2010. With the realisation of these possible landmark, it is envisaged that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) which usually base allocation of production quota of its members on the total reserves they command at every point would be moved to increase Nigeria's production quota.
This would enable the nation to produce, export additional barrels and generate foreign exchange needed to finance many of its socio- economic programmes and projects. In the downstream, the involvement of your talented personnel would likely boost refining and distribution of petroleum products.
This would likely reduce or completely end era of shortages, reduce cost of doing business, price of goods and services, thus making the prices of local products to be more competitive in the world market. This gesture of the NNPC would over time empower youths to make effective demands, thus assisting producers of basic utilities to realise rapid turnover.
The trainee scheme and employment which is in line with the federal government policy to reduce youth unemployment which reached alarming level in the country would likely reduce high crime rate in the society as many energies would be channelled into productive ventures. This scheme which dramatises the corporation's concern for youths and the future of the nation would also assist the federal government to achieve its transparency vision.
As the biggest oil company South of Sahara, President Olusgun Obasanjo is said to have been worried about the way and manner past administrations and managers of NNPC and other industry players conducted their affairs including recruitment training and promotion of personnel. This negative attitude, fuelled by prolonged military administration of the nation, dominated a greater part of the life of Nigeria and NNPC which started commercial oil production and operation in 1977 respectively because of excessive external interference in the daily running of its affairs.
This was worsened by the activities of foreign investors who prefer to employ and make use of expatriates and foreign consultants. Institutional inadequacies and lack of effectively coordinated empower development policy further hindered local personnel development and technology-acquisition.