By Ayobami Adedinni
A former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, has said that the development of human capital and local content is vital to the nations’ development.
Speaking at the Oil & Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria, OGTAN’s 1st National Education Summit held on Monday in Lagos, she said without the development of human capital and local content, Nigeria’s vast natural resources would amount to nothing when put at par with developed countries of the world.
She said, “It doesn’t matter what quantity of oil and gas, and minerals still existing in our grounds, without developing human capacity and local content, we might as well be heading for collapse”.
“Oil and gas is a means to an end. The end is about the development of human capital”, she said.
Ezekwesili added that discretionary allocation of oil blocks gave rise to “massive” corruption in Nigeria.
“The discretionary allocation of oil blocks led to massive and grand corruption in Nigeria.”
“So to this end, we entrenched the system of licensing and marginal fields allocation in order to encourage local players”.
“But I guess politicians assumed marginal fields would be distributed to them without due process”.
According to her, right policies need to be put in place in the oil and gas sector to avoid political sentiments.
In his speech, the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, maikanti Baru, urged for collaboration between academia and the industry on research to attract investments into the country.
Baru who was represented by Managing Director of NETCO, Mr. Mustapha Yakubu said, “research must be prioritised in order to keep up with the developmental changes in the world”.
He added that developmental frameworks that will address stumbling blocks to investments should also be put in place.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote on his part explained that with the enabling frameworks backed with the right legislative push, the nation’s economy will be heading towards meeting up with international standard.
According to him, structures that will encourage capacity building, research and development, provide finding and incentives should be put in place to encourage local development.
He added that the board is preparing to launch a research and development fund where academia and industry practitioners will be funded to carry out researches for development of the economy.
“Access to the fund will be on an international standard. And those research will not end on paper but will lead to collaborations between academia and industry experts”.