President Tinubu Promises To Be Firm, Sacks Wabote, Chairman, NCDMB

By Suleiman Umaru

Last November, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had declared at the 2023 Cabinet retreat for ministers, Presidential Aides, Permanent Secretaries and other top government functionaries that the bulks stop on his table.The Nigerian  and that ministers and other political appointees will only retain their offices based on their performances which will be viewed periodically, some people laughed over it, describing as a mere threat.

The Lagos state born Nigerian President had given the ministers and political Aides, a soft landing to work closely with Hajia Haiza Bala Usman, immediate past Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and now Special Adviser on Policy Coordination. As Special Adviser on Policy Coordination, Hajia Usman has been given mandate to closely monitor the performances of the ministries, departments and agencies across the eight priority areas of the Administration and file her periodic report to the President for necessary action.

The Nigerian President may have sent a message to the ministers and other political Aides to take their job serious to avoid running into trouble with the ‘’dynamic young lady’’, appointed Special Adviser on Policy Coordination’’, urging those who   have problem with her to come to come to his office with their complaints him. There are indications that Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, of some Ministries, Departments and Parastatals and agencies, MDAs, have been sacked and replaced by the President based on the dynamic Lady’s recommendation since August 2023. 

Engr Simbi Wabote: Chairman, NCDMB, Sacked by President Tinubu

The last to be hit by the President’s sledge hammer was Simbi Wabote, an Engineer and Chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitory Board, NCDMB, from Byelsa, home state of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Engr. Wabote, described in enrgy circles as the’’ Content Champion’’ was removed from office On Thursday, December 7, 2023, by the Nigerian President and replaced by Senator Heneiken Lokpobiri, another Bayelsa state indigene and minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Oil, in the restructured NCDMB.

Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity who HAD dropped the bombshell same Thursday, December 7, 2023, had confirmed that with the appointment Senator Lokpobiri as the Chairman of NCDMB, it has brought to an end the seven-year-old journey of the Administration of Engr. Wabote as Head of the NCDMB, which was said to have started in 2016, during the Administration of former President Buhari’s Administration.

 Engr.Wabote was said to have been removed from office by the incumbent Nigerian President less than 10 months before the expiration of his second term of four years   but no reason was given for his sack.

Signs for the removal of the former Head of NCDMB was said to have started last October when the minister of state, Petroleum Resources, Oil, who could not hide his feelings had commended the Board for its maintenance culture but regreted that such maintenance could not be extended to the office Head complex which was in a sorry state.

 The minister may have gladdened the heart of Engr. Wabote and his Management Team when he promised that he’’ will give all the support he can so that the Board can maintain its office complex like some other of its infrastructural facilities. He was emphatic that ‘’the challenge of infrastructural development is the maintenance’’.

  Although, the NCDMB CEO, had attributed slight delay in the execution of the maintenance schedule    of the office complex to the devastating flooding that had had hit several parts of the riverine state, including Yenagoa, the Capital in the second and third quarter of 2022.

 But many believe that Engr. Wabote, the former Chairman, of NCDMB, had neglected the execution of the agency’s office Complex at Yenagoa, because his mind was set at relocating its Corporate Head office from Yenagoa   to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to be close to the Seat of power. He got it wrong.  He was eventual removed from office on Thursday, December 7, 2023, over undisclosed reasons.    

Senator Lokpobiri , mister of state, Petroleum Resources, oil, Replaces Wabote As Chairman, NCDMB

The Presidential Media and Publicity Aide had said in a statement that the appointment of Senator Lokpobiri, the minister of State, petroleum Resources, Oil, as the Chairman of the   Governing Council and Management Team of NCDMB was in conformity with sections 72 and73 of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development, Act, 2010, as signed by former President Goodluck Jonathan, with Headquarters at Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state Capital.

 Going by Ngelale’s statement, Senator Lokpbiri is expected to run the affairs of the restructured NCDMB, with Oritsemyiwa Eyesan, a former Vice Chairman of Upstream Petroleum Regulation Commission, UPRC while Felix Omatsola Ogbe , will serve as the Executive Secretary, and who will oversee the day to day running of the agency.

 Other members of the rejuvenated Board of the new look agency include Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of UPRC, Nicholas Odinuwe, Raphael Samuel, Sadiq Abubakar, and Olorundare Sunday Thomas.  It could not be ascertained whether, the Bayelsa born- politician will function as both minister of state, Petroleum Resources and the Chairman of the NCDMB. Ngelale the Presidential Media Aide, statement may have been silent on this, fuelling speculations making the round that that he may have given the fresh appointment in his capacity as the minister of state, petroleum Resources.

Given the Nigerian President’s determination to strengthen the NCDMB, may have informed why he has expected much from this highly qualified body of experts ‘’to discharge their duties with the patriotic resolve to significantly enhance indigenous industry participation in the country’s energy sector’’.

The Nigerian President’s target in the renewed hope agenda of the Administration, according to insiders is to achieve the goal of 70% indigenous content and participation in the nation’s energy sector, currently being dominated by foreigners.

The Nigerian President may have taken the bold initiative to make the fresh appointments to strengthen the NCDMB, because the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, has pegged the country’s Crude Oil Production at 1.5 million b/d for the 2024 fiscal year.

The move, according to an NNPCL, source was one of the major outcomes of the Organisation’s 36th and Non-OPEC ministerial meeting which ended in Vienna, Austria, last Thursday, the very day, the Nigerian President injected fresh hands into the NCDMB.

Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, the ministry Permanent Secretary was said to have attended the OPEC and Non-OPEC, ministerial meeting in Vienna were the decision to peg Nigeria’s daily Crude oil daily production for 2024 was taken. Senator Lokpobiri, the minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Oil, was said to be absent, fuelling speculations making the rounds that he was instrumental for the changes in the NCDMB, but did not want the announcement to be made in his absence.

As   the new Chairman of NCDMB, thogh , not involved in the day to day running of the agency, Nigerians expects Senator Lokpobiri, who incidentally is the minister of state Petroleum Resources, Oil, to ensure that ‘’the agency mandate of promotion   of in-country value addition in the nation’s oil and gas industry, incentivizing local manufacturing in the oil industry, development of human and material capacities and job creation which are major pathways for meeting the renewed hope agenda of the Tinubu’s Administration are met.

Engr. Wabote, the former Executive Chairman of the NCDMB, who have given an insight about the workings of the agency to the minister when he informed him during a recent tour of the agency facilities about the establishment of the Nigerian Content Intervention, NCI,50 million, North American country of the United States, US, dollars   Fund, described as ‘’one of the NCDMB, impactful initiatives’’ in energy circles.

The then Engr. Wabote led NCDMB,had said that that the funds was set up because of the lack of access to affordable finance which remains to be one of major challenges   facing emerging players in the nation’s oil and gas sectors of the nation’s economy .

The fund, which is currently being administered By the Bank of Industry, BOI, under the close watch of Olukayode Pitan, was said to have been used ‘’to assist indigenous   qualified oil and gas Companies to access the capital they needed to grow, build capacities and create job opportunities for teeming unemployed Nigerian Youths’’.  

There is no gain saying the fact that the implementation of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development, NOGICD, Act, has created over 50 ,000 direct jobs in the local economy over the last 11 years as revealed by Engr. Wabote.

He had said that the creation of direct 300,000 jobs in the nation’s oil and gas industry and linkage sectors, had enabled the retention of $13 billion out of the annual $20 billion spent in the industry and establishment of major fabrication yards   and manufacturing hubs in-country. 

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