The Chairperson of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Board, Sen. Margery Chuba-Okadigbo, has pushed for the establishment of Project 100 for women-owned businesses in the oil and gas sector, saying the initiative will encourage more women participation.
While speaking with The PUNCH on the sideline of the 2nd edition of the Women in Oil and Gas Industry, Diversity SWG conference held in Lagos, Okadigbo said having a Project 100 solely for women would go a long way at repositioning women as formidable players in key areas, including the oil and gas industry.
Project 100 is an initiative of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources alongside the Nigerian Content and Development Monitoring Board to look holistically at 100 wholly indigenous oil and gas companies and nurture them to the next level.
“Women have not gained enough traction in the industry like their male counterparts, and introducing such a project will bring the dividends home with multiplier effects on the horizon. Train the woman, train a nation.
“Women should be given a chance at leadership roles in the sector. We appeal to the leadership of the NCDMB to consider a replica of the NCDMB Project 100 model for women in the oil and gas sector,” Sen. Chuba-Okadigbo, who was the chairperson of the event, said.
The Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Simbi Wabote, said women in the sector would be supported financially to help them get to the pinnacle of their businesses and careers in the sector.
“We would do all to enhance their capacities, support them financially through the NCI Fund and help them find opportunities in the industry, in collaboration with the NNPC and its subsidiary, NAPIMS,” had said.
According to Wabote, it is estimated that women occupy about 50 per cent of non-technical positions at entry level, compared to only 15 per cent of technical and field role positions. Gender diversity decreased with seniority with only a tiny proportion of women in executive positions, Wabote added.
“Women operators in the Nigerian oil and gas industry will soon benefit from gender-friendly policies on access to funding, award of contracts and support for research and development, courtesy of the NCDMB,” Wabote had earlier said, adding that NCDMB would review its strategy on the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI Fund).
The Managing Director, AAO-Tsalach Ltd and Chairperson for the Diversity Working Group, Alero Onasode, told The PUNCH that to birth something new in the oil and gas industry, it would take coming together of both the men and the women.
“We also need policies to encourage more women participation in the sector,” she said, adding that women were not trying to wrestle power from the men, but men would simply make space for more women participation.
The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, also called for the participation of more women in the industry, stressing that harnessing their natural strength, intuition, knowledge and expertise for the growth of the industry had become imperative.
He stressed that more strides could be achieved if women groups in the industry embraced one another, adding that it was time to work together in championing the cause of women in the industry.
With the recent appointment of Elohor Aiboni as the managing director of Shell Nigeria Exploration & Production as Company and Margrey Okadigbo as pioneer chair of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Sylva said Nigeria would not be left behind in its determination to ensure adequate representation of women in the industry.
“To take advantage of the changing landscape, women in the Nigerian oil and gas industry must work together towards increasing women’s participation in the industry, engendering growth, building capacities and capabilities, identifying opportunities, mentoring and coaching, in order for the industry to progress as a whole.