The Federal Government has been called upon to help discontinue the poaching of highly skilled Nigerian workers from indigenous firms by foreign oil and gas companies.
Managing Director of Engineering Automation Technology Limited (EATECH), Mr. Emmanuel Okon, who made the call at the fifth year anniversary of the company in Lagos, noted that the trend was inimical to government efforts to boost the capacity of indigenous companies in line with the local content law.
Okon said the speedy intervention of the federal government was necessary because when poaching is added to the problem of credit crunch faced by local firms, the fate of indigenous companies becomes more precarious.
Pointing out that his firm had lost a substantial number of "trained staff to major oil and gas companies, Okon said the solution to the worrisome trend, was to increase payments for local firms executing projects for major oil companies, as was obtainable with foreign contracting firms.
He said despite the poaching constraint, it was imperative for local firms to increase funding to train more future human capital in Nigeria's tertiary institutions as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Okon maintained that funding has remained the major factor facing most indigenous entrepreneurs in running successful businesses in the oil and gas industry.
"Indigenous companies providing similar services like their foreign counterparts are paid less thereby affecting negatively their ability to sustain competent and certified personnel especially those trained by them" he said.
He added: "The twin evil of poaching trained personnel by multinational companies and sustaining these trained personnel by local companies is a challenge which requires the intervention of regulators".
The EATECH chief argued that the high remuneration of staff by multinational firms was because they usually got more income earnings from even similar contracts or jobs performed by local firms.
According to him, to improve the manpower base for local firms, despite the poaching by foreign firm, EATECH had to inaugurate an award (that goes with N100,000 gift) for the best graduating student of Electrical and Electronic Department of the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, located in Ikot Ekpene.
He however applauded the local content policy of the federal government, stating that it had enabled his company to established five years ago, to undertake projects in an industry hitherto reserved for foreign multinational.
Okon stated the need for industry regulators, the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), the Local Content Monitoring and Development Board and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to "implement radical but careful tripartite relationship in providing guarantees for access to project specific finances especially to indigenous companies whose services are listed on NIPEX."
This option, he noted, would provide alternative or additional comfort to banks where genuine indigenous companies cannot provide additional collateral in addition to domiciliation.
EATECH began operation in November 2007 with seven staff and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited as pioneer customer.
The company, which bagged the ISO: 9001:2008 Certification, provides services to multinational oil companies, including United States largest company, ExxonMobil Group and Total Upstream, as well as Delattre Bezons Limited; ZB Joint venture Limited and Aveon Offshore Nigeria.