I Never Asked Wabote To Increase NCDMB’s Budget By N30bn - Lokpobiri

I Never Asked Wabote To Increase NCDMB’s Budget By N30bn – Lokpobiri

4 weeks ago
4 mins read

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, has debunked the allegation that he asked former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Simbi Wabote, to increase the board’s budget by N30 billion.

Wabote had while reacting to comments made by the minister at the Petroleum Club event in Lagos recently about the activities of NCDMB and NNPCL, claimed that Lokpobiri had in December 2023 requested that he should increase NCDMB budget by N30 billion for the office of the Minister but he did not do so because it has never been done before.

“My problem as ES started with Lokpobiri in December 2023 when he sent one of his undocumented aides within his Ministry to my office in Yenagoa (Blackson) requesting me to increase NCDMB budget by N30 billion for the office of the Minister and I said it had never been done before. I served two Ministers and none of them ever made such request to NCDMB, that we only make provision for the office of the Chairman of the council which covers his travel expenses,” Wabote stated in a press release while reacting to the minister’s comment at Petroleum Club recently.

“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 N30 billion will be too much for his office and I was not going to do it.”

READ ALSO: NCDMB Receives $1m Return On Investment From NEDOGAS  

Wabote faulted the assertion of the minister that 90 per cent of the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund managed by the Bank of Industry (BOI) is not performing, adding that he and the Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Gas) Ekpo Ekperikpe, were fully briefed about the Board’s activities and projects upon assumption of office last year.

I Never Asked Wabote To Increase NCDMB’s Budget By N30bn - Lokpobiri
Former Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote

The former NCDMB Executive Secretary added that Lokpobiri visited the Board’s headquarters and other project sites located across the country and wondered why he is being economical with facts.

“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 December 2023, it is on record that the NC intervention funds managed by 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 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 a 10,000TPD Methanol plant. It is therefore FALSE that the partnership was for ‘fertiliser 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 $3.2 billion project. The Board’s additional investment is tied to the achievement of financial close which has not been achieved by the project promoters.

“The status of the fifteen (15) Board’s partnerships can be grouped into five as follows: One (1) commissioned and operational (Waltersmith); five (5) ready for commissioning (Nedo, BetterGas, Bunorr, Butane (Kaduna), and Duport); four (4) under construction (Azikel, Triansel, Eraskon, and LadolPower; four (4) in search of debt financing (Brass Fertiliser (Methanol), Rungas Prime, Rungas Alfa, and SPL Utorogu); One (1) under divestment considerations (Atlantic Refinery).”

Reacting, the minister through a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Nneamaka Okafor, asked Wabote to prove his allegations with evidence that he directed him to increase NCDMB’s budget by N30 billion.

“Our position is that he who alleges must prove same. So if Mr Wabote has proof of such conversation he is challenged to provide same,” part of the statement signed by Okafor read.

It said the minister has no aide called Blackson,  adding that “All his aides were duly selected in line with extant laws and have documents to that effect.”

“The Minister in his capacity as chairman of the Governing Council stands by his statement at The Petroleum Club’s quarterly event in Lagos, and as journalists I welcome you to visit the places mentioned to verify the allegations for yourself.

“Thirdly, the said Atlantic Refinery was supposed to be built in Mr Wabote’s home town, he should show Nigerians where that refinery is.

“Fourthly, the Brass refinery was also paid for, you are welcomed to also visit the site to verify the facts for yourself.”

The minister said that since his office operates with a budget overseen by the permanent secretary, he was unable to request Wabote to make provisions for the office’s budget and he has never participated in the budgeting process of any parastatal under the ministry.

He accused the former NCDMB executive secretary of being angry because he was replaced after serving for seven years and that it is a mere fight back over ongoing investigations about how funds were allocated for projects under Wabote’s tenure.

According to Lokpobiri,claims of alleged misconduct were initially raised at a House of Representatives Committee on Local Content investigation hearing.

“Investigations are ongoing and the truth will surely come to light and monies belonging to the generality of Nigerians will be recovered for Nigerians,” the statement said.







Correspondent at Prime Business Africa | + posts

Victor Ezeja is a passionate journalist with six years of experience writing on economy, politics and energy. He holds a Masters degree in Mass Communication.

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