Despite claims that he was roundly cleared by medical reports indicating that his wife died of natural illness, Peter Nwachukwu, is not getting any respite yet, as a High Court, sitting in Abuja, is insisting that he is liable to the sudden death of Osinachi Nwachukwu, a popular gospel artist, last year.
Justice Njideka Nwosu-Iheme of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Wuse Zone 2, which dismissed the no-case submission filed by Nwachukwu, stated that the prosecution did indeed establish a case against the defendant.
Following the 23-count filed by the Federal Government indicting him, in connection with the death of the popular musician, Nwachukwu was remanded at the Kuje detention facility until further hearing after pleading not guilty, ahead of the preliminary trial, which began on June 20, 2022 and finished on March 10, 2023, in which the prosecution called 17 witnesses to testify.
Though Osinachi, who passed away on April 8, 2022, was considered to have died of throat cancer at first, family and friends later claimed her death was connected to assault by her husband who was later arrested.
But reports from the National Hospital in Abuja later issued an autopsy, which stated that there was no mark of violence on the deceased and attributed the cause of death to include “generalised organ pallor; bilateral leg swelling; fluid in the sac containing the heart; tumour deposits in and on the heart, lungs, kidneys; massively enlarged heart and fluid around the lungs which restrict breathing.”
It was this report that Nwachukwu’s lawyers, I.A. Aliyu, took to court to file a no-case submission, arguing that the husband of the deceased had no case to answer, having been cleared of the charges of culpable homicide and domestic violence.
“Osinachi died solely as a result of outgrowth tumors, which resulted in cardiac tamponade, the primary cause of death and abnormal growth of tissue (cancer) which is the secondary cause of death,” he said, urging the court to release and acquit him of all charges.
But Nwosu-Iheme, in rejecting the no-case motion, ordered the Osinachi to open his defence in the case, which has generated a lot of controversy and public interest both in Nigeria and beyond.
IDL ‘Master of Fun’: Two days of mixing business with pleasure
How often has it been said – you do not mix business with pleasure. How true is it? Well, with a full impetus, the answer was delivered in clear terms to this age-long dictum, last weekend – not in all cases do business and pleasure not mix! In fact some businesses and pleasure are like Siamese twins – inseparable. That much was proved by Intercontinental Distillers Limited (IDL), Nigeria’s foremost producers of wine and spirits for the two days they locked down parts of Lagos.
Between Thursday, 24th and Friday, 25th of November, 2023, every visitor or passerby within the precincts of Isaac John in the Government Reserved Area (GRA), Ikeja, must have noticed something unusual as the route was lined with cars of all shapes, models and sizes. Inside the imposing Radisson Blu, located in the highbrow street, showed the company spared no cost in returning the favours of their customers by giving them first-class treatments – a carnival of some sorts, worthy of every expression.
The event, which was the 2023 edition of the IDL Distributors Award, to reward customers for their loyalty, also included the re-launch of Teezers cocktail brand, and the unveiling of the new packaged products. But it was clearly beyond that by the other activities daintily choreographed to fit into the entire show. Like the fine work of a weaverbird the guests, right from their arrival on Thursday to the time they finally retired to their rooms, some in the early hours of Saturday, witnessed a sequence of events sure to remain in their memories for many years.
Emerging from their rooms on Thursday evening, the distributors and other guests were first treated to a dinner after which they sat down to enjoy a superlative performance by Nice, one of Nigeria’s current celebrated music stars followed by a welcome party that stretched far into the night, enabling them to meet, greet, mingle and exchange banters, amid tables filled with exquisite food and drinks from the company’s stable.
The next day was kicked off with a breakfast, health and business talks, followed with lunch, makeup, green carpets and picture sessions that preceded the major event of the awards and the unveiling of the new product and designs to the guests at the banquet hall of the hotel, which was filled to capacity with the guests.
The glittering presence of some of Nigeria’s A-list celebrities in the Nollywood and BBNaija brands, accentuated the kaleidoscope of colours from the gaily-dressed awardees, guests, management and staff of the company, as well as their friends and well-wishers, which blended with the interludes of musical performances to create the perfect concept of entertainment, enjoyment and pleasure.
IDL management with some of the awardees
Aare Hope Gbagi, IDL’s Head of Sales, captured the raison d’etre of the event when he told the audience it was the company’s idea of rousing their major stakeholders – the distributors out of their daily routines of business to a different arena of relaxation, necessary for their physical and mental health, particularly considering the stiff and challenging economic situation in the country.
Congratulating the distributors, whom he said deserved special welcome for surviving the harsh business climate in the country, particularly the various challenges of the year 2022, he added: “This ceremony presents us with a unique opportunity to pull you our distributors out of your daily routines of buying and selling to a beautiful atmosphere to unwind and relax and by this idea, contribute our own quota in improving your mental health, which is part of our discussions earlier this morning.”
Elaborating on the necessity to fete the distributors, Engineer Patrick Anegbe, Managing Director of the company, said the event was a testament to the amazing partnership IDL shared and the impressive achievements both accomplished together in-spite of the unfavourable business environment in the country.
He said: “Today, we embrace the theme “Beyond Limits” which perfectly reflects our collective journey of surpassing boundaries and pushing ourselves to new heights. Each and every one of you have steadfastly navigated through challenges and persevered in the face of adversity. Your dedication and unwavering commitment have uplifted our business to new levels of excellence.
“To be more specific, the Theme, “Beyond Limits” to you our distributors implies:
- Experiencing products that go beyond your expectation.
- Experiencing opportunities in sales of both successful and new brands for the growth and success of your business.
For us in IDL; the theme implies:
- Showcasing innovative products.
- Strengthening customer loyalty and building long term partnerships.
- Highlighting the company’s commitment to continuous improvement and pushing limits.”
Speaking specifically on the challenges, he added: “One of the most significant challenges we faced as a manufacturing company and partners was the high cost of doing business. Market conditions became increasingly unstable; prices of input materials continued to rise almost on a daily basis; energy cost went up due to high cost of diesel. The foreign exchange (FX) required for raw materials, equipment and spares was not readily available and our roads continued to remain in deplorable state, making movement of goods from one part of the country to another difficult and expensive.
“Our dear business partners, despite the unfavourable business environment you had to contend with in 2022, your performance at the end of the year was impressive. This is indeed commendable and we are sincerely thankful to you all.
Dorothy Anegbe, displaying her trophy
“IDL as a company also strived relentlessly in 2022 to tackle the challenges encountered head-on through strategic planning, operational efficiency and investment in technology. We have pioneered processes that empowered us to thrive in the face of adversity. To ensure more availability of our brands to our esteemed distributors the future, we have invested heavily in capacity building. You will therefore start to notice improvement in supplies of our products from the beginning of next year.
“We will continue to exhibit our strength in research, new products developments and innovative activities to keep our brands above others in Wines and Spirits industry in Nigeria and make doing business with us more interesting. I want to make a passionate appeal to our valued distributors to always ensure that you buy across the range of our brands whenever they make purchases. This will ensure improve growth and profitability for your business.”
The introduction of the Teezers cocktail brand, which also now comes in three flavours of orange, ginger and lemon to the audience, clearly underscored the reason IDL maintains a leading role in the entertainment industry, where premium drinks remain the major partner. The audience watched as the performance of a group of young men and women told the story of its re-launch through a breathtaking choreographic show, decked in suspense and eventual revelation.
Mobolaji Alalade, the company’s Head of Marketing, who put the show together, explained that the fresh move came out of the need to close the gap of the limited cocktail variants in Nigeria with the needs of the consumers.
Hear him: “Today marks a new beginning – a beginning of changing the fun narratives within the Cocktail Sparkling Drink Category of the Wines and Spirit business in Nigeria and Africa at large. This game changer is the relaunch of Teezers Lime/Lemon as well as the Teezers Apple Sparkling Cocktail Drink and the introduction of two brand new variants -the Orange Flavour and Lemon and Ginger Flavour which is non-alcoholic.
“With the limited variant options available within the Cocktail drink category, the highly youthful Nigeria population have been yearning for more fun options. Intercontinental Distillers Limited (IDL) equipped with research findings and consumer feedback rose up to the challenge of closing the gap and has now redefined the category with the revamp and consequently the relaunch of its already existing variants as well as the two new exciting additions – Teezers Orange for those who love the refreshing citrus flavour and the sense of energy its vibrant colour gives, while the Lemon and Ginger non-alcoholic flavour will cater specifically to children and teetotallers so as to ensure no one is left out.
Some of the celebrities at the even
“Today, Teezers Sparkling Cocktail Drink has been upgraded from 300ml to 400ml in a contemporary, trendy, easy to carry bottle definitely offering our Consumers more. The brand label has been redesigned in sync with the spirit of the new age while the logo now radiates the elegance and youthful fun filled nature of the brand.
“Apart from presenting to you the new look of Teezers and the new additions to its variant bouquet, we unveil our new marketing campaign ‘More fun’ which underscores the brand’s unique preposition as the Master of Fun. As such, the brand will be engaging directly with the core consumers across all leisure destinations at all touch points in Nigeria.”
Indeed, the event, packaged by ISO-BLACK Concept Limited, a vibrant multi-channel brand communication solution and support services concern, lived up to its billing as the Master of Fun in Nigeria. The huge success of the third edition of the agency’s involvement, which included the design, deployment and execution of all the programmes, not only underscored a full grasp of the environment, but provided a demonstrable evidence of taking the gown to town in the fun business.
For the over 300 distributors that were feted at the occasion, and others who did not make list, the words of Dorothy Anegbe, Managing Director, Ogbohu Nigeria Enterprises, Sango Ota, who picked the star prize during the event, would continue to ring a bell.
“I pray that God should continue to be with them. They will grow from strength to strength and we will be able to come here and collect award.
How else to prove a partnership that works and the saying that indeed, for IDL and its stakeholders, business and pleasure indeed do mix.
‘Realnews 11th anniversary lecture’: Two days to fresh agenda on Nigerian and African growth
For the past decade or so, the yearly Realnews lecture series, has become a forum for not only assembling some of the biggest and brightest brains in Nigeria and beyond in one gathering, but presented a platform for picking their brains necessary in setting agenda critical for the growth and development of the country and Africa.
Tuesday, November 7, will be yet another occasion for the now elite gathering when another theme would be put on the table. Coming at a time when Nigeria has once again transitioned to yet a fresh phase in its current democratic experience, this year’s theme: Threats of Illicit Funds Flow to Africa, presents a fresh impetus for the nation regarding its influential role as the undisputed leader of Africa.
That in itself has gone further to underscore the import of the yearly parley as an event for harvesting ideas and plotting the charts to find solutions for some of the knotty issues not only on domestic issues affecting Nigeria, but Africa in general as they contend with their places in the global agenda.
Over the years, the organisers had invited two Chairmen of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to speak on the ever challenging issues of organising elections in Nigeria, a move, which is predicated on finding real solution to how Nigeria could get out of the consistent and seemingly intractable electoral bad behaviours.
In search of solutions, Maurice Iwu, who superintended over the national elections in 2003 and 2007, at the 2014 edition, was brought in to speak on the theme: Nigerian Democracy: Getting it Right in 2015, ahead of that year’s general elections, while Mahmood Yakubu spoke on Political Transitions and Africa’s Economic Development: Preparations for Nigeria’s 2019 General Elections at the 2018 Lecture.
Other speakers include Buba Marwa, a Brigadier General who spoke at the 10th edition in 2022 on Drug Abuse among Youths in Africa: Implication for Nigerian Economy and 2023 Elections, while before him at the ninth edition, Simbi Kesiye Wabote, an engineer, oil industry expert and current Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) took his stand to speak on Nigeria in the Unfolding Integration of the African Market: The Oil and Gas Perspective.
In 2020, at the eighth edition, it was the turn of Boss Mustapha, then Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, who spoke on Managing COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa: The Nigeria Experience, while a year before, former President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana gave the 2019 lecture, entitled: Beyond Politics: An Economic Narrative for West Africa.
The 2017 fifth lecture on African Leadership in a Turbulent Era was delivered by Oby Ezekwesili, former minister of Education and former World Bank Vice President, while in 2016 fourth anniversary Lecture on Security and National Development in Plural Democratic Society was delivered by Mohamed Ibn Chambas, former United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative to West Africa and Sahel, just as the 2015 third edition was delivered by Chukwuma Charles Soludo, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and presently Governor of Anambra State, on November 19, 2015, with the theme: It’s The Nigerian Economy, Stupid?
Each of the editions, no doubt had contributed its own block and planks, such that today, a solid platform has been constructed as a foundation for a massive intellectual edifice that has become the backbone and reservoir for decision making choices, exactly what Maureen Chigbo, founder, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Editor-in-Chief of RealNews, arguably one of Nigeria’s most versatile and thriving online platforms aims at for initiating the scheme.
To highlight its success so far, many blue-chip companies and organisations are currently lining up in support of the hosting of the 11th Anniversary Lecture holding at the Sheraton Hotel on Tuesday.
The organizations, according to a statement signed by Chigbo herself, include NCDMB, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM).
Chevron Nigeria Limited, Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), FirstBank Nigeria Limited (FBN), and Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Dangote Group, National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Johnwood Hotel, Abuja, and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are also providing their own supports.
Chigbo, who is also the President of Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP), the umbrella body of more than 100 registered professional online news platforms in Nigeria, in the statement, expressed deep appreciation to the entities, praying God to bless them and give their management the wisdom to lift their organisations to greater heights and prosperity.
Expressing the same sentiments to all the banks, institutions, companies and other organisations that have placed online advertisement on Realnews website in the last 11 years, she said: “Without their support we would not have remained in business all through the years to do what we love best – investigative journalism.”
Explaining the features of Tuesday’s parley, she said the lecture, which would have Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director of NPA, would be delivered by Edwin W. Harris Jr., Director General of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Senegal, while Ahmed Kuru, Managing Director of Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) would keynote the conference.
Scheduled for Sheraton Hotel by 10am, the event would also feature Kayode Adebayo, Director of Proceeds of Crime Department, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and Felix Obiamalu, Associate Director, Legal and Sanctions, Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), as discussants.
The event would also witness the investiture of all the speakers into The Realnews Hall of Fame immediately after the Lecture, the statement, said, quoting Chigbo as saying that the Realnews Hall of Fame was established to honour only those who played key roles during the anniversary lectures.
“Realnews, a general interest magazine, is an online publication that thrives on investigative journalism. We have expertise in reporting the oil and gas sector with its attendant environmental challenges. We aim to unearth exclusive stories about real people and the challenges they are facing in their day-to-day activities. We do this bearing in mind that government can only act to influence the lives of people positively if they are aware of their true situation. Hence, our objective is to use our investigative skills to ferret out information in the sectors we focus on and produce an unbiased report which will actually influence the government and decision-makers to take actions that will make society better.
“Realnews is populated by seasoned journalists who believe strongly in the tenets and ethics of the profession. The online publication believes that journalism as the fourth Estate of the Realm can contribute its quota towards building a fair and just society where fundamental human rights are respected and citizens have the freedom to pursue their interests anywhere in the world without hindrance. Its editors have a combined experience of several decades in active journalism practice and are highly dedicated to serving humanity. Hence its motto: For God and Humanity.
“Realnews Anniversary Lecture Series was established to commemorate the best minds in our society and to tap from them to enrich the discourse in our national development,” the statement added.
Wabote at GOCOP: Breaking down the gains and pains of Nigeria’s local oil and gas development
It was meant to be another interactive session, one in the series of what has underscored the robust partnership between the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Date was October 3, 2023, venue, the Ladi Kwali Conference Room of the Abuja Continental Hotel,Again. Again it was another opportunity for the top echelon of the NCDMB, a body, which since its establishment, in 2010, has become the engine room of boosting the involvement of indigenous operators in the oil and gas business and development in Nigeria and members of GOCOP, currently the highest authoritative voice of journalism practice in the country, to engage in not only promoting the ideal behind the Federal Government initiative, but emphasise the implication of the impact of its attaining its goal as a major catalyst for the Nigerian economy.
Listening to Simbi Wabote, Executive Secretary of NCDMB, who since his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) on the 29th of September 2016, had pursued his brief with uncommon gusto rarely found among public officials, presented a fresh insightful and incisive foray into one of Nigeria’s most critical sectors that holds the key as a crucial hub and engine of growth in the nation’s economy.
With a 25 years in the business of oil development in Nigeria, Wabote, who was before his appointment, Executive Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Nigeria Limited and the General Manager Business and Government Relations for Shell Companies in Nigeria (SCiN), could be no less expressive.
Like a teacher holding a class, he practically broke down the entire spectrum of the development to its bits and pieces, odds and ends of the issues surrounding the ups and downs as well as the gains and pains of the critical sector.
At the event and as in the past, the NCDMB boss, never left his audience in doubt that he is on top of his game not only in the agency, but has both a hands-on knowledge of how its operations could lead to the waking up of the sleeping giant that is the Nigerian economy, but the passion to do so.
As usual his top-notch account of the development of the agency so far, was captivating as it was enthralling for revealing the great potentials the nation has at its disposal. Yet, some of his revelations, left a sour taste in the mouth by underscoring the negative flipside of the situation to emphasise the reason Nigeria is still struggling even with the huge potentials of being an A-list player in the global economy.
It was a bitter-sweet tale. Of course Wabote reported how he and his team, had by dint of hardwork, grown the agency to its present status, in collaboration with stakeholders in the oil and gas industry, including the media.
Imagine a situation where Nigerians now own a whopping 15 per cent of the oil operations in the country from a zero start just few years ago. Anyone with the littlest knowledge of what that entails in terms of money and infrastructure buildup would appreciate the reason Wabote and his men would beat their chests in celebration.
Of course, the ease of doing business in the sector, which NCDMB has promoted during the period, seems one of the major reasons for achieving the feat. It has even become better now and would become more so with the Service Level Agreement (SLA) the agency had recently signed with key entities in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, meant to up its game in terms of speed.
Wabote explains: “We initiated this concept in 2017 to shorten the contracting cycle in the Nigerian oil and gas industry from an uncertain two to three-year period to six months.
“Our goal was to spur the speedy development of new oil and gas projects, ensure compliance with the provisions of the Nigerian Content Act, and guarantee timely approvals of Nigerian Content documents.
“Our objectives were also to facilitate ease of doing business, set new standards of quality service delivery in the public and private sectors and provide evidence that the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) is not a mere regulator, but essentially a Business Enabler.”
Another raison d’être, is to pick up where the foreign majors are dropping off to ensure a seamless takeover that would make oil production continue without let or hindrance or make them less so. This is evident in the onshore and semi offshore operations, where the oil majors are currently divesting.
Wabote made glaring disclosure with the present situation of the low production in the country, which had put many stakeholders and concerned citizens in Nigeria in great anguish. Not a few of them had bemoaned the fact that Nigeria is probably the only oil-producing country in the world that is not smiling to the banks as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war that has seen a quantum leap in both the price and high level of production approved by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), due to the minimal role Moscow now plays in the industry.
He explained that the situation could even be more dire if Nigerians failed to fill the gap being created by oil majors, departing the scene and divesting their operations. According to him, the operators are finding it less attractive to invest in the offshore and shallow onshore regions for various reasons, thus making it imperative for Nigerian players to step in not as the only major way of provoking continued strong economic growth, but supporting President Bola Tinubu achieve the economic policies in his Renewed Hope Agenda.
Hear him: “Contrary to the popular view, the unfortunate stealing of our crude oil by vandals is not the only reason for Nigeria’s low production numbers and the decrease in our foreign exchange earnings.
“Our nation’s production deficit is partly caused by the lack of major investments in the past decade, declining oil production from aging oil fields, and the clamour for energy transition which caused international oil companies to cut back on new projects.
“There is also the emergence of attractive oil-producing nations in Africa and across the globe, leading to intense competition for investment capital. These challenges were exacerbated by our inexplicable delay in the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act and of course the long contracting cycle time.”
Indeed, NCDMB boss explained that virtually all African countries are now discovering oil on their soil, unlike the situation in the past and due to the competition on ground entailed by the development, offering mouth-watering options to international oil majors who are biting at the bait.
It was against this backdrop that the NCDMB worked tirelessly to ensure the coming of the SLA, Wabote, said, adding that it was a bold steps to cut down time in all our touchpoints during pre-qualification, bidding, and award stages of the oil and gas tenders, starting with Nigeria LNG Ltd in June 2017.
“That SLA with the Nigeria LNG was the first of its kind between a regulator and another entity in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. The implementation ensured that we broke a record for the shortest contract approval period.
“Before we instituted the SLA, we had already introduced the 15-DAY Rule to the industry in 2017, where we promised that we would respond within 15 working days to any formal request for approvals that relate to oil industry projects execution. The 15-Day Rule also permitted operators to go ahead with their projects if we fail to respond to their request after 15 days.
“As further proof of our commitment to a short contracting cycle, we achieved a 14-month contract approval record on the Zabazaba and Etan deepwater project which was promoted by the Nigerian Agip Exploration, in partnership with SNEPCo. We had accomplished this record before the project was suspended due to non-technical reasons.
“We are extremely delighted that our SLA template has been adopted across the entire oil and gas industry through the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Service Level Agreement (SLA) we signed last week with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC Ltd) and five international oil-producing companies. Other participating companies in the SLA included Shell Petroleum Development Company, ExxonMobil, Chevron Nigeria, Nigerian Agip Exploration and Total Exploration and Production Nigeria,” he said.
The NCDMB boss also informed his audience that the agency created a separate SLA with the Indigenous Petroleum Producer Group (IPPG), which we signed in October 2018, adding: “Last week’s SLA signing is the climax of the adoption of the initiative and we commend the Management of the NNPC Ltd for their participation.
“With the position of the NNPCL as the senior partner in the joint ventures (JV) and concessionaire of the production sharing contracts (PSC) arrangements, the chances of achieving the six-month target period and other aspirations of the SLA look very bright.”
In fact, he said the theme of the interaction, Sustaining Nigerian Content Amidst Divestments to Indigenous Oil Companies: The Role Of The Media, was well chosen to give insight into the growing profile of Nigerian operating companies, especially the recent acquisitions or planned acquisitions of key assets divested by some international oil companies.
Here, he named Seplat Plc and Oando Plc that had now transformed from from midsized players into big-time operating companies, saying it underscored the new picture and the leaps the local content gospel was attaining.
“Seplat PLC is hoping to conclude the acquisition of the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Unlimited (MPNU) from ExxonMobil Corporation, a deal that would triple Seplat’s production and add 95,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
“Similarly, Eni signed an agreement last month to sell Nigerian Agip Oil Company Ltd to Oando Plc, a deal that will include NAOC’s four onshore blocks, the Okpai 1 and 2 power plants, and two onshore exploration leases. The transaction will double Oando’s reserves to 996 million barrels of oil equivalent.
“What is playing out is the implementation of the oil majors’ strategic move to sell down their onshore assets in Nigeria and concentrate on their offshore operations, where they retain a competitive advantage and contend with minimal human interferences.
“The implication is that we should expect other majors to soon offer their onshore assets for sale, while many other Nigerian independents will have a shoe-in.
“The ongoing and planned divestments are big accomplishments for Nigerian Content development. They are bold statements that Nigerian indigenous operating companies have come of age and have acquired the technical, managerial, and financial capabilities to play in the big league.
“We are proud that we have moved from near zero participation in the oil and gas sector to the point that our indigenous operators such as SEPLAT, AITEO, EROTON, and others are now responsible for 15 per cent of our oil production and 60 per cent of our domestic gas supply.
“With this planned acquisition, the share of local firms in crude oil production could reach 30 per cent or more in a short while. It is heart-warming to see our local operating companies deploy ingenious techniques to double and sometimes triple production volumes from their acquired assets and apply homegrown solutions in addressing host community concerns,” he said.
Wabote, however, explained further that part of the reasons for the divestment of the oil majors in the offshore and shallow onshore arena was not purely because of what many had misconstrued as harsh operating environment, but the discovery of new technologies that made it more rewarding to move deeper into offshore operations, with prospects for less human interference.
The bottomline for making this critical decision of either divestment or continued operation, he said, is rested on Portfolio Rationalisation, centred on the Internal Return on Investment (IRI), a threshold through which operators in the industry measure profitability and sustainability.
Hear him: “A lot of people get worried to say, why are the international oil companies divesting? Is it that they are running away from Nigeria? That’s not the case. In all the oil-producing companies, we have a threshold that determines return on investment – the IRI. Once the IRI falls below that threshold, given their size and their global reach, they would want to divest, because it is no longer profitable for them.
“But to a large extent it is not the same for the indigenous oil operators who still find it profitable because they are nimble in size and their operations are largely localised. This is not peculiar to Nigeria. The Gulf of Mexico and even in the North Sea, where all the majors used to operate, a lot of these assets have been divested to local players. A lot of them have pulled out from those assets because the local players have come of age, they are a lot nimbler and they can turn around those investments and make huge profits. That is the major reason those companies are divesting. But most often than not, we see it differently from other perspectives. Once we see those oil companies divesting, all we conclude is that oil major wants to leave the country. That is not the case.”
Apart from the PR and IRI, other factors such as the global campaign against fossil oil in favour of renewable energy, also plays a major role for the new trend in the operational decisions of the oil majors, he said.
Besides that, he explained that because the International Oil Companies (IOCs), have advantage of deep pocket and technology, they had to adopt the Blue Ocean Strategy, as against that to the Red Ocean, stressing that unlike the latter infested with a lot of shacks struggling for space, since many people now had some form of capacity to produce oil, the Blue Ocean, where it is just the blue sea, the IOCs see it as a more convenient operation arena.
“There is a red ocean and there is the blue ocean. In the red ocean there are a lot of shacks. It is called red because there is blood. Everybody now knows how to drill oil onshore. Everybody now knows how to deal with oil and gas in the shallow offshore. So, there is some kind of entanglement and fight. But when you move to the blue ocean, there is no blood. You just see the blue sea and you want to get there in order to get away from Red Ocean. So, it is not a question of leaving the country. It is a matter of Portfolio Rationalisation.
“You can imagine exploring oil and gas two kilometres deep in the ocean, where humans cannot get to – the maximum as a human diver you can get is six metres. Anything beyond that you cannot stand the pressure. You can imagine that and even 3.5kilometres of water and you are going to the dept to look for oil. That can only be done by people who have the deep pockets and technology to be able to go that far. That is why you see the oil majors by virtue of their deep pockets, their research breakthroughs and their technology that they have attained that are able to go that level of water to look for oil.
“Of course, there is no gainsaying that there a lot of problems offshore in terms of oil theft, massive environmental pollution, local refineries that steal crude to refine. All those are challenges that the IOCs are faced with. So, the best thing is to hand it over to the locals who can deal decisively with some of these challenges and move to the deep ocean where they feel a lot more comfortable.
The positive outcome, Wabote said, could be gleaned in how a production well Shell divested, which initially produced a total of 20,000 barrels of crude, had now upped its capacity to a princely 75,000 barrels, after its acquisition by Seplat. In a similar manner AITEO, which also acquired another platform from an IOC, was able to ramp up production from 30,000 barrels per day to 80,000, even with close to 80 per cent local personnel.
But in the bitter-sweet narrative, Wabote also spoke about how the ubiquitous phenomenon called The Nigerian Factor, had not only crept into the arrangement, but stultifying the progress.
Hear him: “Beyond the positives, it must also be observed that the divestment of producing assets to indigenous players poses significant challenges for the implementation of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act.
“The worries are predicated on research findings and our experience in implementing the NOGICD Act in the past 13 years which indicates that indigenous firms, especially the indigenous operating companies are serial violators of the Nigerian Content Act.
“In many instances, international operators tend to comply with the Nigerian Content because it is in their DNA to obey laws or they have to show evidence of compliance to their home offices. On the contrary, some many indigenous companies feel entitled and assume they can get away with non-compliance. At other times they want to save costs to the detriment of the local economy.
“Some of indigenous have also argued that they should be excluded from the implementation of the NOGICD Act since their primary investors are Nigerians. Some of the common violations by indigenous firms range from executing projects without obtaining prior approvals, non-execution of mandatory Human Capacity Development Initiative (HCDI), Non-Utilization of vendors without approved Nigerian Content Equipment Certificate (NCEC) and Utilization of the services of contractors that are not registered on the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Joint Qualification System Portal (NOGIC JQS) and several other violations.
“Other times, the firms fail to remit their one per cent mandatory Nigerian Oil Content Development Fund and engage expatriates without requisite approvals from the Board or even award contracts to foreign firms, even when other Nigerian companies can execute.
“It is very surprising to see local companies undermine and flout the Nigerian Content Act despite being the immediate beneficiaries of the Nigerian Content policy, thereby causing capital flight, loss of jobs, and opportunity for technological development.”
Commending the indigenous companies gearing up to acquire the divested assets, he reminded all stakeholders of the industry that the provisions of the Nigerian Content cover all entities and all activities connected to the Nigerian oil and gas industry adding that the board would continue to study the changing ownership dynamics in the industry, and partner with the industry stakeholders to institute regulations that will ensure that the increasing footprints and stakes of indigenous production companies will not lead to a reduction in Nigerian content compliance and participation of Nigerians in the industry.
Soliciting more support from the media, especially GOCOP, to continue advocacy for Nigerian Content compliance by all stakeholders of the industry. Wabote, maintained that Nigerian Content implementation remained a marathon, and we will require all hands on deck to ensure that the benefits of the oil and gas industry is retained maximally in Nigeria.
The records show that the giant strides the organisation and its men are making are not in vain, given the recognitions they had received in recent times, including the award by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) as the most efficient agency among all the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the Federal Government in 2022.
While the body was also rated PLATINUM by the Bureau for Public Service Reforms in recognition of the self-imposed reforms of our processes, Wabote himself was honoured in October 2022 by former President Muhammed Buhari with the “Distinguished Capacity Development Award” at the Nigeria Excellence Award in Public Service (NEAPS).
“These awards have challenged us to redouble our efforts to deepen Nigerian Content in the oil and gas industry and the linkage sectors and to continue to contribute to the growth of our national economy,” Wabote had told his audience.
In the end, it was a case of preaching to the converted. Maureen Chigbo, President of the organisation, assured Wabote and his men that the group would do anything and everything within its powers not only to project the ideals of NCDMB, but ensure that defaulters are held accountable.
December 6, 2023 9:40 pm
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