Senate decries foreign dominance in diving sector


By Kingsley Okoye
Abuja, April 29.2021 Senate on Thursday decried dominance of foreign operators in the employment of personnel in the nation’s diving sector.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Local Content, Sen. Teslim Folarin made the remark at an investigative hearing on a motion to ensure strict compliance with statutory regulations and provisions of the Nigerian Diving Sector.

Naija247news reports that the meeting, which was at the instance of the committee was designed to investigate claims of contravention of relevant statutory provisions in the area of diving in the oil and gas sector.

Folarin said the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010, provided that 70 per cent of divers in offshore energy projects must be Nigerians.

According to him, the sponsor of the motion indicated that the act on local content has not be complied with in the diving sector.

According to him, Section 28 sub-section (1) provides that Nigerians should be accorded first consideration for employment and training in projects to be executed by the operator in the oil and gas industry.

He, however,said foreign dominance had been alleged to have deprived indigenous divers their rightful place in line with the act.

This, he said, was unacceptable, particularly at a time when unemployment was high.

This, he further said, resulted in the invitation of some of the key operators in oil and gas sector to give their perspectives on the issue.

He said it was important for a proper regulatory mechanism to be put in place to enable the diving sector thrive and benefit Nigerians more.

Folarin said the hearing provided needed platform for relevant stakeholders to brainstorm on how best to address challenges inherent in the sector and make appropriate legislative recommendations to revamp the diving sector.

He assured stakeholders that their views would be looked into dispassionately in the interest of Nigeria.

Folarin said he was delighted that the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo had inaugurated the board in line with the diving Act Work Regulation 2018.

“This is a clear demonstration that the minister is not oblivious of the fact that the inauguration is necessary for development of this sector,” he said.

He, however, said it was important the minister briefed the committee on what the board had done since inauguration, along with plans to fulfill its statutory role.
Responding, Keyamo said it was discovered that there had been some lacuna in the regulatory activities of the diving sector.
He said the ministry inaugurated the board for regulation of the sector, which had the Permanent Secretary as the leader of the board.
According to him, members of the board comprised representatives of the Nigerian Navy, NIMASSA, among other stakeholder associations operating in the sector.

He said the ministry through the board, has designed a work plan for regulation of the sector,assuring that the ministry would work with agencies of government responsible to drive adherence to local content, particularly on employment and safety measures in the sector.

Shedding more information on the board, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Yerim Tarfa said the board met three times to produce a work plan and budget line for regulation of the sector.

He decried absence of a working budget to finance activities of the board.

He said the ministry was looking at the possibility of using part of its overhead cost to finance the activities of the board.