In what can best be described as an act of putting its house in order, key players in the downstream sector of the nation’s petroleum industry emerged last week under the aegis of Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA). FESTUS OKOROMADU writes on the potentials of the new association to sanitise the sector.
The marketing of petroleum products in Nigeria until recently was the exclusive preserve of government and some few multinational oil companies operating in the country. But driven by the economic reality of the 1990s coupled with the privatisation initiative of government in the early 2000, many indigenous operators ventured in the distribution arm of petroleum products.
Today, the nation’s landscape is dotted with various brand names of distributors of petroleum and gas products, those making accessibility to products easier.
By implication the place of the private sector investors especially the indigenous players by way of providing logistics to push products to end users in every nook and cranny of Nigeria is very vital.
However, the absence of a platform that regulates the activities of operators has led to the emergence of a number of vices.
For instance, the issue of adulteration of petroleum products is mostly attributed to these indigenous operators who play in the downstream sector in the area of distribution.
The Emergence Of NOGASA
Worried by the negative impacts of the absence of a platform to regulate, supervise, support, defend, project or even drive businesses, stakeholders in the industry decided to form a common front.
Dating back to 2008, the stakeholders registered and inaugurated what was known as, Oil and Gas Suppliers Association (OGASON), but the union was said to have ran into some technical hitches which restricted it from functioning effectively.
According to inside sources, the board of trustees of OGASON quickly reappraised the situation and decided to create a broader platform that would serve the interests of all stakeholders nationwide. This led to the conceptualisation of NOGASA which was incorporated in November 2015.
However, until last week NOGASA could not takeoff effectively as the affairs of the association remained under the management of the BoT. But the association took on a life of its own on Thursday October 11, 2018 when duly elected national officials of the body was inaugurated.
Speaking on the rationale behind the rejuvenation of the association, the newly- elected president of NOGASA, Mr. Bennett Korie, said global best practices shows that having a common platform which help to ensure self regulation of members provides access for easier and faster business opportunities and growth for all stakeholders. He added that such development rightly proffers a profitable environment for both the public and private sector.
He however noted that the distribution of petroleum products in the country has suffered a great deal of obstacles due to fragmented and individual engagement in the business.
Speaking on how committed members of the BoT stayed together to overcome the numerous challenges faced prior to the birth of the rejuvenated association, the vice president of NOGASA, Alhaji Abdullahi Idris, noted that the obstacles and setbacks had indeed translated to experiences which has made them more courageous in resolving to take up their rightful place in their bid to legitimately contribute their quarter to the growth of the industry.
On his part, the secretary of the association, Chief Edison Nwosu, attributed the initial challenges faced to misguided and wrongful positioning by those he described as enemies of the noble project. He however, expressed confidence that with the repositioning as well as the election of national executive officials who would now see to the full running of the body, NOGASA is set to serve Nigerians better.
Going by the goodwill messages of the dignitaries who attended the inauguration of the pioneer executive cum launch of NOGASA’s new logo ceremony, both government and the private sector placed a high value on role played by the members in the society.
Hence, the restructuring which is designed to give it a national phases is indeed a welcome development.
For instance, the commandant-general the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Abdullahi Gana, noted that the emergence of the association would help reduce the incidence of illegal activities in petroleum products marketing in the county.
Gana, who was represented by assistant commandant general, Operations, Aminu Kofarsoro, commended the association for its resolve to ensure that members are responsible and law abiding. He warned that the Corp would not hesitate to deal with anyone cut vandalising government property.
Similarly, the representatives of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngigi, Mrs Mary Ike, commended the association for the role it plays in the provision of employment for Nigerians.
“We encourage you to treat your employees kindly so as to enable them put in their best performance,” she admonished.
In his good will massage, deputy director, Oil and Gas, ministry of the environment charged members of the association to be mindful of implications of their activities to the environment.
He called on them to partner with the government to ensure that their business operations did not lead to environmental degradation.
“Whatever you do ensure there that the environment is sufficiently protected and properly managed,” he stated.
Other dignitaries such as the chairman, FCT Councils of Chief and Ona of Abaji, HRH, Dr. Adamu Yunusa and the chairman, House Committee on Civil Societies and Development Partners, Mr. Peter Akpatason, paid glowing tribute to entrepreneurial spirit of the members of the association.
Call To Service
The climax of the event was the swearing in ceremony of the pioneer national executive of the association. Those elected and inaugurated into office include, Mr. Benneth Korie, (President), Alhaji Abdullahi Idris, (Deputy President), Alhaji Bayo Bello (Vice President), and Mr. Tunde David ( Secretary General).
Others are Alhaji Musa Aliyu (National Treasurer), Mr. Stephen Ugboma (National Auditor), Chief Akunedozi Odili (National Trustee), Chief Ukadika Chinedu (National Public Relations Officer), Chief Edison Nwosu (National Adviser) and Mr. Charles Eleto (National Ex-Officio).
The new executive are charged with the responsibility of steering the affairs of the association over a period of five years.
A Pledge To Salvage
In his acceptance address, Korie , who expressed gratitude for the trust reposed on him and his team promised to serve diligently, pointing out that the union has a paramount role to play in the economic development of the nation.
His words, “The strategic position of our industry as suppliers of natural oil and gas, in the overall development of the Nigerian economy and society is immense and cannot be overstated at any given time.
“You will agree with me that the effective supply of natural oil and gas to our nation is a great service which all our members here share in common therefore, the protection of the interest of our members is very important,” he said.
Speaking on the part his team would follow in establishing the association, he said, “Our work is clear cut; to assist in creating an enabling environment for our members to operate around Nigeria. On my part, I will do my best to ensure that our members have a smooth interface between the marketers and the end users.”
He promised to curb illegal activities saying, “Let me use this opportunity to advise those patronising illegal loading points to desist from doing so, because it’s no longer necessary; it is harmful for the reputation of the business. Remember, we are employers of labour, we don’t want anything to jeopardise the jobs of our workers, besides, the frequent damages caused by adulterated products are costly to end users.
He however solicited for members’ cooperation to achieve the objective of the association.
Meanwhile, the new executive has initiated moves to decentralise power.Plans are already on to elect executives at the zonal and state levels. No doubt, NOGASA as a platform is here to stay and contribute its quota to the economic development of the country.
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