Post COVID-19: Why NASS must pass local content bill, Rep Kalu

By Haruna Salami

The National Assembly will prioritise the passage of Nigerian Local Content Development and Enforcement Bill 2020 as a legislation that could help rejuvenate the nation’s economy and help Nigerians overcome post- hardship.

Spokesperson of the , Rep. Benjamin Kalu disclosed this analysing the general principles of the bill in a statement, adding that the idea of local content bill, was to encourage local participation, ownership and control of certain key sectors by indigenous businesses.

The Bill which passed reading on Tuesday, 19th May, 2020, was sponsored by the Speaker, of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Chairman, Committee on Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring, Rep. Legor Idagbo and 7 others.

Amongst other things, the bill seeks to expand the scope of Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act  (NOGICDA) 2010, which established the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) but is limited to the oil sector.

It is believed that the law will put the Nigerian economy in the hands of Nigerians, creating jobs and enhancing the value of indigenous businesses in the post-Covid-19 era.

According to him the bill, when passed and assented to, will promote local manufacturing and economic diversification with focus on ICT, agriculture, solid minerals, hydrocarbon refining and power.

The bill makes it mandatory for Nigerian made goods and services in all public procurements; Nigerian content philosophy as a key requirement in all public sector procurements; provides for creation of local content departments in MDAs and provides requirement for Nigerian Content Plan (NCP) on major projects (above N100m) outlining minimum Nigerian Content thresholds for materials, labour and services required on the project.

“Creation of a robust research and development (R&D) ecosystem to drive home grown technology development; promoting collaborations between research institutions, product developers and end users of research; as well as provision to incentives funding of research by public and private sector entities, is another green side of the Bill that would help develop the Nigerian system.

“In job creation drive, to address , the Bill seeks to give first consideration to Nigerians with requisite skills in all public funded projects.

“The Bill also provides for creation of national database of available skills amongst the Nigerian locals and requirements for approval and utilisation of expatriates will only role where there is immediate skills shortage.

Local Content Enforcement Bill will address capacity building to develop resilient local supply chain; provision for targeted sector-specific capacity building programmes and requirement to close capacity gaps in education, infrastructure, facilities and vendor development on the back of projects.

“Sustainable funding for local content is another clause in the Bill that will help promote and grow the Nigerian economy in Post COVID-19 era.

To achieve this, the Bill provides for creation of a Nigerian Content Trust Fund (NCTF), dedicated to implementing projects and programmes connected to developing local content. Application of the Fund to develop SMEs through low interest project-based financing schemes is also provided for in the Bill.

It will also provide necessary legislative backbone for of key that will evolve from the Economic Sustainability Committee as well as other policy actions by the executive aimed at repositioning the Nigerian economy in the post COVID-19 era.

The statement also called on the  Senate to also, as a matter of urgent national , consider the concurrence of the Bill when passed by the lower chamber, for the immediate assent of President Muhammad Buhari, for the good of our economy and the citizenry.