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Umana Okon Umana to the Federal Government; Don’t give us Federal allocation, we make enough Money

memo from the OGFZA MD which stated that OGFZA no longer needs a dime of public funds to pay staff salaries and sustain its operations. The memo by Umana reads: “Following the measures taken by the new management of OGFZA to increase IGR, I write to inform the Honourable Minister of Finance that with effect from the 2018 financial year, the Authority will no longer depend on treasury funding to meet her recurrent expenditure requirements (salaries and overheads). The recurrent expenditure of the Authority will be funded with our IGR.” This is unprecedented in a nation where most Directors are known to embezzle and mismanage public funds

Umana Okon Umana is Creating Magic at OGFZA. The Federal Government of Nigeria through section 2 of the Oil and Gas Export Free Zones Act. No 8 of 29 March, 1996 established The Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) as the National Regulatory body to manage and regulate Nigeria’s oil and gas export free trade zones. The Authority fully gazetted, began regulatory operations in Onne, Rivers State, in 2000.

 In September 2016 with what would later be a historic master stroke, President Buhari appointed Chief Umana Okon Umana as the Managing Director OGFZA. The Akwa Ibom born task master immediately embraced the heavy task of overseeing the Oil and Gas Free Zones with an uncommon candor and excellent understanding of its peculiar logistics. Leveraging on certain existing incentives, which include unlimited time limit on cargo storage, zero Customs duty, unlimited expatriate quota, indefinite storage and sales period of goods, zero import and export licenses, reduction in overall project costs and investor-oriented policies etc. the new MD expanded capacity of the zones to host the operations of over 170 companies providing them with streamlined regulations, reduced tax obligations and state-of-the-art infrastructure. The unique synergy formed with stakeholders like the NPA, Intels and NEPZA is a testimony that FTZ in developing countries can drive growth in different sectors outside oil and gas, attract increased foreign investment inflow, create employment and transfer skills and technology.

In 2017 Doha world free zones convention, Qatar, via a paper titled “Cluster and Foreign Direct Investment promotion strategies – Nigeria in Perspective” Umana enlightened the world on the new direction of the oil and gas industry under the Buhari administration, detailing several investment driven policies in response to the global demand for speed, cost reduction and organizational efficiency. He reeled out the giant strides achieved through the improved ease of doing business initiative, a strategic partnership with an investor to rollout embedded low cost power supply at the Onne terminal and a huge investment in the Brass Oil and Gas city. Umana made the major players in free zones world over to understand that Nigeria is the new destination for this business. As expected the job of sanitizing operational inefficiencies within the zones was met with internal resistance by human gods who have over the years enriched and enamored themselves causing all forms of hitches and inconveniences to operators and business men. The MD through strict application of policy documents and astute human capital management skills destroyed the cabals of the tin gods and successfully cut the turnaround time for the licensing of a new business in the free zones to 14 days while the turn-around time for license renewal moved from 14 days to within 48 hours. Having come on board with the vision of providing an integrated, efficient, reliable and cost effective logistics solution to the Oil and Gas industry in Nigeria, Obong Umana introduced an innovative concept of a one-stop-shop oil service centre designed to meet the growing specialized needs of oil producing companies that are geographically contiguous.

All these giant strides increased revenue tremendously and culminated in a landmark memo from the OGFZA MD which stated that OGFZA no longer needs a dime of public funds to pay staff salaries and sustain its operations. The memo by Umana reads: “Following the measures taken by the new management of OGFZA to increase IGR, I write to inform the Honourable Minister of Finance that with effect from the 2018 financial year, the Authority will no longer depend on treasury funding to meet her recurrent expenditure requirements (salaries and overheads). The recurrent expenditure of the Authority will be funded with our IGR.” This is unprecedented in a nation where most Directors are known to embezzle and mismanage public funds. The zone has raked in over $6bn into the federal coffers in the last 6 years contributing immensely to the nation’s exit from recession and stabilization of our formerly precarious forex regime.

The Managing Director of OGFZA, Umana Okon Umana who has grown the zones by a whopping 32% in the last two years doesn’t bow to obstacles, he is seeking for the amendment of the enabling laws through a public hearing to afford OGFZA a better operational legal framework to keep moving Nigeria forward.

The magic Obong Umana has performed at OGFZA cannot be exhausted in a single write up. The cordial relationship in existence between the host communities and the FTZ is a piece of a glowing testimony rare in the Niger Delta regions. As we say in Nigeria, the reward for good work is more work. Umana has shown that with the right persons in the right positions that a lot of good things are easily achievable in Nigeria.

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