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NCDMB: Refusal To Increase Budget By N30bn Caused My Sack, Wabote Alleges

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NCDMB: Refusal To Increase Budget By N30bn Caused My Sack, Wabote Alleges

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The immediate past Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) Engr. Simbi Wabote, has revealed that his refusal to increase 2023 budget of the agency by N30 billion was responsible for hi sudden sack by the federal government last year.

Wabote, in a statement Wednesday in Abuja, said he was approached by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, through a proxy to increase the 2023 budget of NCDMB by N30 billion but he refused.

The former NCDMB boss was reacting to the remarks made by the minister recently at the Petroleum Club, which the statement described as “reckless and bundles of lies unbecoming of a Minister of State of the Federal Republic.”

According to Wabote, it is therefore shocking that the HMSPR-Oil chose to present false narratives before the Petroleum Club in his foray into character assassination, treachery and ‘waste’ agenda.

The statement said: “I wish to state that his reckless statements in the past months is not new to me. As only recently he tried to throw NNPCL under the bus as he stated that Nigeria is losing 400 bpd of oil because of not signing the Seplat deal thus trying to indict NNPLC as a parastatal under his supervision. As a Minister and a representative of the substantive minister, are you not supposed to canvass government positions or represent your principal correctly? Rather he chose to act like a militant activist.

“My problem as ES started with Lokpobiri in December 2023 when he sent one of his undocumented aids within his Ministry to my office in yenagoa (Blackson) requesting me to increase NCDMB budget by N30billion for the office of the Minister and I said it had never been done before. I served two Ministers and none of them have ever made such a request to NCDMB, that we only make provision for the office of the Chairman of the council which covers his travel expenses.

“I said to him that the maximum NCDMB budget has ever gotten to in the past is circa N80 Billion for all our activities, adding N30billion will be too much for his office and I was not going to do it. I ask stakeholders to review the NCDMB budget from 2016 to 2023 and also look at what got approved in 2024.

“In August 2023, I had led the management of NCDMB to provide a full briefing of the Board’s activities to Mr. Lokpobiri and the Hon Minister of State for Petroleum – Gas (HMSPR-Gas) Hon Ekperikpe Ekpo. The presentation, in more than 250-page slides, provided information on the status of the Board’s projects, partnerships, interventions funds, TSA account balances, HCD programs, Forensic Audits, and other strategic initiatives under the NCDMB 10-year Strategic Roadmap.

“The presentation was followed up with an invitation to the Hon Ministers of State to embark on familiarization visits to the Boards headquarters and other project sites located across the country.”

The former NCDCB said he had moved on after his sack but “I never knew that the HMSPR-Oil lacked any understanding of the brief I had given to him complete with necessary facts and figures or prefers to broadcast mischief to industry stakeholders.

“We had told Mr. Lokpobiri that our projects, interventions, and partnerships were driven by the enabling provisions contained in the NOGICD Act and extant government policies on modular refineries, Decade of Gas, jobs creation, and poverty eradication.

“It is FALSE for the HMSPR-Oil to assert that 90% of the NC Intervention Fund managed by BOI is not performing. He was fully briefed that it is because NCDMB is not a bank that made us partner with BOI as a foremost development bank in the country to manage the intervention fund for the oil and gas industry with each loan secured by Bank guarantee.

“As at Dec 2023, it is on record that the NC intervention funds managed by Bank of Industry (BoI) helped cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the industry and that the fund has yielded millions from the low interest rates with the principal fully secured with Bank Guarantee (BG). The fund was intact when I left office as can be verified from BOI. If the fund is now being declared as ‘wasted’, by the HMSPR-Oil, he should be asked what he has done, or intends to do with the fund, to make such a declaration. Industry watchers must not allow the secured funds to be diverted under any pretext.

“Our presentation and briefing notes to the HMSPR-Oil on Brass Fertiliser clearly informed him that the partnership arrangement with NNPC and DSV Engineering is for the establishment of 10,000TPD Methanol plant. It is therefore FALSE that the partnership was for ‘fertilizer factory’.

“Perhaps, Mr. Lokpobiri should have checked with the Hon Ekperikpe Ekpo, the Hon Min of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas) and NNPCL for details of the project and the latest developments rather than the false accusations to castigate NCDMB.

“For the records, the initial investments by NNPC and NCDMB are pre-FID equity injection for the estimated $3.2billion project. The Board’s additional investment is tied to achievement of financial close which has not been achieved by the project promoters.”

The statement challenged the minister to visit the construction sites to avail himself of facts on ground.

“He should also check the MPR archives of the strategic plan to diversify oil and gas development clusters in the Niger Delta using Bonny Island, Brass Island, Onne, Ogidigben, Ibom, etc. Perhaps, this will cure his aversion to any developmental initiative in Brass Island and the Niger Delta in general.

“Apart from his undiplomatic language as a Cabinet member implying that China is an undemocratic nation that sends its citizens to jail and even shoots them to death without fair hearing and, it is important to draw the attention of the HMSPRO to the international dimension of his false statements on the image of Nigeria. His self-serving outburst in the face of verifiable facts is a dent on the enviable heights attained by Nigeria in local content practice as attested to by several countries within the continent and beyond.

“The HMSPR-Oil should learn to separate the requirements of the office he currently occupies from his political ambition. He should look for another individual and agency of government to demonize in his quest to remain relevant. I am also aware that he is fighting a proxy war with his one time principal (former MSPR) and only using me as a decor.”