The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engr. Ernest Nwapa has been conferred with an Award of Excellence by the South-South Youth Assembly.
Speaking at the award conferment ceremony held recently in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, the National President of the group, Comrade Ovie Afor explained that the Executive Secretary was chosen in recognition of the remarkable achievements the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board had recorded, not only in the implementation of the Nigerian Content Act and but also in the development of young people in the country.
Accepting the award, Engr. Nwapa enthused that the honour would spur him and the dedicated staff the Board to focus on the lofty mandate set for the Board by the Federal Government and people of Nigeria.
He asserted that Nigerian Content is an important programme to the nation and if well implemented, will ensure that a lot of economic problems are mitigated, hence the huge responsibility on the Board to make the initiative a reality.
The Executive Secretary who noted government’s concerted efforts to diversify the economy, stated that the oil and gas industry will remain the main stay of the Nigerian economy for a long time, thus the need to maximize the resources from the industry as a spring board to other sectors of the economy.
He frowned at the over emphasis on social employment, urging oil bearing communities to focus on getting their people involved in productive employment, which the Nigerian Content Act is promoting.
According to him, the Nigerian Content Act had helped Nigerians to get into businesses they did not ordinarily believe they would, urging the youths to focus on innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship rather than getting paid jobs, which unfortunately are not always available.
Dwelling on the implementation strategies of the Nigerian Content Act, the Nwapa said the Board was stimulating equipment components manufacturing, which will ensure capital retention, technology transfer, capacity development and training. He emphasized that equipment ownership and training were some of the areas the Board is giving prime focus, as well as the maintenance equipment like rigs, vessels and other hi-tech industry assets.
He further harped on the need for peace which is necessary to attract investment, adding, “It is a challenge and I expect youths in the South-South can come together and enthrone an atmosphere of peace and tranquility in the region and give government some years to see if it will live up to its billing and if the foreign investors will listen to the people’s agitations.
“It is a message that every South-South leader must pass on because investments can help solve the problem of social amenities.”
He also reported that the Board has commitments from Yulong Pipemill, a Chinese company to build a Pipe Mill in Polaku, Bayelsa State, which will create thousands of training and employment opportunities for Niger Delta youths.
In his remarks, the National Publicity Secretary of the group, Comrade William Kirk, explained that the South-South Youth Assembly focusses on the promotion of good governance and leadership excellence.
He asserted that the group also provides constructive criticism and direction for administrators.
Kirk said: “Every leader needs the contribution of those he is leading if he must succeed. We also have it as part of our program to appreciate those who have contributed meaningfully to the development of Nigeria in all sectors and to those who have distinguished themselves in their appointive or elective position, which is the only way to encourage such persons to do more.
“This is why we came to appreciate the Executive Secretary to tell him how much his positive impact is being felt across the South-South region.”
In his speech, the National President of the South-South Youth Assembly, Comrade Ovie Afor commended President Goodluck Jonathan for signing the Nigerian Content Bill into Law, stating that the Act if well implemented, will reverse the mistakes made in the first 50 years of oil exploitation in the country.
Comrade Afor also hailed NCDMB’s implementation of the Act, noting that it has led to the employment of youths and engendered multiplier effect on their families.
In his vote of thanks, the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics in the Board, Mr. Patrick Obah, commended the youth group, adding that their gesture was for the country and generations to come.
He charged the youths to work as good ambassadors of the region, stating that the Board is willing to collaborate with similar bodies while admonishing them to desist from vices that are inimical to societal development.