By Codratus Godson
The newly reactivated Bonny Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BOCCIMA), has offered to help Bonny businesses gain the capacity and competences needed to gain access to the $1Bn worth of business opportunities reserved for Bonny business community.
This was revealed by the newly engaged Director-General of the BOCCIMA, Mrs Constance Nwokejiobi, tapped from a global giant, Wrighs Portfolio Consult Limited, at the enlightenment seminar organized at the Igbanise House by the Bonny Kingdom Local Content Committee (BKLCCC) at the weekend.
Speaking with passion to the enthusiastic Bonny elite business corps and leaders of the various Houses, Mrs Nwokejiobi, who was introduced and presented by the interim president, Lawrence F. Jumbo, warned that Train-7 project with its benefits may come and go but that sustainability remains with the BOCCIMA as the driver of the Bonny economy.
She said; “The Bonny Chamber of Commerce has come to stay. Train-7 construction has gestation period of five to six years but BOCCIMA has come to stay as the hub of economic activities on the island. It is to be the driver of your businesses in Bonny Kingdom.
She went on: “In the capacity development area, we are offering you training that will not only be for Train-7 but one that will take you beyond that to anywhere in the world. In activating the BOCCIMA, we are competing with international global standards. Our baseline is Singapore, London, and the US, and we are looking at technology from the point of view of places like Switzerland and China.
“So, whatever capacity development we are giving and whatever technology we are giving, you must know that after Train 7, there is life. These investors that are coming in or you would want to partner with also want partnership with the local communities, they would want to first know if the local company has what it takes; endorsement, certification, etc. It is the Bonny Chambers of Commerce that would give that international endorsement.”
As the eye-opening messages sank with excitement on the faces of the business elite, the DG added; “Another one is, those coming are all business people. The BOCCIMA is the economic hub and we are not going to talk to them as individuals but as companies. No segregation. They are members like us. So we talk on equal terms. There would be international activities and our members would be able to go on trade missions. We would not be waiting for the Chinese to come here but we tailor our trade missions to meet our needs and the kind of technology we need. We go and acquire it and come back.
“If what we need is in Germany, we go to the embassy and ask and connect our members. However, we are not going to give these benefits to non-members. As mother will first consider her child before anybody else, so will BOCCIMA first assist her members to access these benefits. It will be business to business connections.’
She said BOCCIMA would also offer mediation and reconciliation platforms for members and this would make the incoming businesses comfortable. She said being a member of BOCCIMA gives these things. “Research is crucial to a business organisationa dn the BOCCIMA is already doing this so that members would simply have to pick up the results and do what they needed. So, you just pick it up and use. Its plug and play. If you seek partnership, we make them to come here. The global brands can be bought and brought to Bonny. It’s not about begging them but engaging them.
“So, we will give you the economic side of Train 7 and help Bonny to look back 10 years after Train 7 and be proud. Whatever opening we are giving you will take you to the next level of business and make life after Train 7 to be for you. The Bonny Chamber of Commerce is your own asset and is named after Bonny and it is in your place. We will try and maintain global standards. Our forms are out. You will get more information and we wish to see all of you at the Chamber office.”
Reality of Train 7 of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to be built in Bonny seems to have dawned on the elite and business community as news filters in about the signing of a whopping $1Bn (about N366Bn) local content opportunities dedicated to the host community. As the wave of excitement sweeps through the island population, the monarch, chiefs, elders and leaders of thought are said to have called for caution but for action.
The young and dynamic Amanyanabo of Grand Bonny, Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple 111, who is Perekule X1, was said to have assessed the upcoming scenario and set up a body of strategists called the Bonny Kingdom Local Content Compliance Committee (BKLCCC) to ensure that the $1Bn does not disappear back to sender through manipulation by outsiders or lack of preparedness by the local community.
He was also said to have decided that only a business body could drive the plans for economic developments of the island and manage the opportunities on the way. He thus saw to the revival of the long moribund Bonny Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BOCCIMA) which has just completed its digitalization and IT-compliance process engineered by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited.
The BKLCCC organized an enlightenment and sensitization workshop at Igbanise Hall on Saturday to train at least five leaders of each group and House in Bonny on expectations of the Kingdom from NLNG Train 7 to avoid the mistakes of the past. This is especially to prepare the local business on how best to be ready to supply inputs to the project through technology transfer.
We will use dialogue this time to get what we want – BKLCCC chairman
The chairman of Bonny Kingdom Local Content Committee, a lawyer and the Omuposenibo, Oruada Willie-Pepple, said at the sensitization seminar in Bonny on Saturday that the people would this time adopt strategic dialogue mechanism to get whatever they wanted from the upcoming Train-7 of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas company.
Opening the seminar, he said: The king in 2018 constituted this committee to ensure that what happened in the NLNG Base project and Trains 1- 6 does not happen again. This time, the Kingdom will have to maximize opportunities in the upcoming Train-7.
We have met the two companies bidding for Train-7 and they have submitted the technical bid and soon to submit the commercial bid. What is important is what they have in each bid for Bonny, but since none has won the bid yet, it is not possible for them to expose the content.
We however know that it is only menial jobs that multinational companies usually give our people but if we can create capacity, we can get bigger jobs and thus survive for the next five years that the Train 7 construction would last. 22 years ago, we had to occupy the NLNG Roundabout in protest but this time, its by dialogue and strategy.
You can partner with those with competence to qualify for jobs so that they don’t give you pittance. Insist on skills from the jobs you will do in Train 7. Now, most of those who worked in Bonny are now working for Dangote in Lagos. That is what happens when you gain skill on a project.
Take this development very seriously and do not come back in future to complain. Note also that Train7 is not for Bonny alone but for all Nigerians but we are the primary stakeholders. We stand to face any threats and outcomes.
Bonny has stood out for long because here is favourred by God. But if you do not maximize what God has given you due to greed, others will occupy it. So, lets be one and work as a team.
We alone will build Bonny – Vice chairman; Bonny Chiefs Council, Hanniel Jack-Wilcox Pepple:
Let me bare my mind: This is our kingdom and we have no other, but how many of us are conscious of these blessings. God put us in this strategic place. We should not live in poverty in the midst of plenty. If we are poor, we made it so.
If you fail to take advantage or to believe in yourself, you have failed. The king is only showing the way with what is coming. We must be good followers because we are all stakeholders. We must come together, build together but not by fighting.
We were not prepared 22 year ago when the NLNG came. Now, we must prepare. Bonny can be like Dubai, but there must be action, not just words. We must benefit from this. We lose when we compete against each other. If we divide, we play into the hands of our enemies.
We alone will build Bonny, and make it what it will be in the next 10 to 30 years. We have to take over and take what God has given to us.
Note: The master of ceremony said: When the NLNG was being built, many workers converted our schools to camps to live in. Now, there is need for support services for Train 7; where will people coming to work here live, where will they eat? Think about this as business people.