John ODHE, Yenagoa
The leadership of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has stated that it did not reach any agreement with any group of persons to train 1,000 youths in Bayelsa State.
This is coming on the heels of sustained protests carried out at the Nigerian Content Tower in the state capital by some youths under the aegis of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM), Bayelsa State chapter with the claim that the NCDMB reneged on its promise to train 1,000 Bayelsa youths.
In a statement signed by the General Manager, Corporate Communication/Zonal Coordination of the NCDMB, Engr. Ginah O. Ginah, the board challenged HOSTCOM to show proof of where an agreement was reached and signed for the training of 1,000 youths.
The statement described the claims of HOSTCOM as mere falsehood and a calculated attempt to deceive the general public, after allegedly extorting monies from the youths in the name of presenting them to NCDMB for training, ignoring the Community Content Guidelines of the Board concerning community relationship.
The Board further enjoined the Bayelsa state government to be wary of the activities of the leadership of HOSTCOM especially in the area of instigating the youths against the board which had led to the disruption of its activities since last week, pointing out that if not properly handled, the violent protests by the youths may not only tarnish the image of the Board but also put Bayelsa in bad light before the IOCs and would-be investors to the state.
Below is a full text of the NCDMB’s press release which was made available to our correspondent in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital on Friday.
RE: PROTEST BY HOSTCOM YOUTHS AND MEMBERS AT NCDMB HEADQUARTERS-THE TRUE STATE OF AFFAIRS
We, the Management of NCDMB, have watched with dismay the needless disruptive protests by members of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM) and their allies since last week, despite all entreaties by the State Governor, His Excellency, Senator Douye Diri as well as other well -meaning citizens and groups in Bayelsa State for them to end the violent protests and explore the option of dialogue.
In view of the flagrant refusal to vacate the siege on our office and quit violence, we are constrained to issue this release to debunk the deliberate falsehood and distorted narrative put out by the group to justify their unwarranted disruption of our operation and to tarnish the image of the Board.
We had expected that reason would prevail and that the group would appreciate the incalculable harm their misconceived and unwarranted action is causing the state as a whole, but it is unfortunate that little or no consideration is given to this fact.
It is shocking and absolutely galling that this group seems to be completely oblivious of the consequences of their unlawful action of obstructing and preventing oil and gas transactions with the Board for two weeks running, knowing the criticality of oil and gas operations to Nigeria’s economic survival.
By this release, we wish to set the records straight and correct the blatant falsehood being peddled by HOSTCOM and their sponsors, which is calculated to mislead the public and attract cheap sympathy. It behoves us to categorically state as follows:
1. That the mandate of the NCDMB as stipulated in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act is strictly (A) To develop local Capacities and Capabilities and (B) To Monitor compliance and enforce provisions of the NOGICD Act.
2. That for the sake of emphasis, NCDMB IS NOT AN INTERVENTIONIST AGENCY FOR THE NIGER DELTA REGION, MUCH LESS FOR BAYELSA STATE. Indeed, the NOGICD Act and the work of NCDMB is to cater for the entire country, not narrow sectional interest.
3. That NCDMB is not obligated to grant or accede to every request or demand from members of the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas in Bayelsa State or any group for that matter.
4.That since inception, NCDMB Board has taken special interest in the development of Bayelsa State and its indigenes to such a point that other states in the region have continued to accuse the Board of bias, favoring Bayelsa State more than all the other oil producing states.
5. That in line with the Board’s determination to spur rapid development of the State and indigenes, the Board has sited several strategic projects in different parts of Bayelsa State, and actively worked to maintain healthy relationship with the communities hosting our projects. There’s hardly any incidence of downtime or disruption of our operations by our host communities.
6. That in our relationship with communities hosting our projects, they do not dictate to the Board nor make onerous demands
7. That it is ridiculous and unimaginable that any group could dictate to the Board, what to do, when to do it and how to do it as HOSTCOM and their allies are trying to do on this occasion, even arm twisting the Board to give into their demands.
8. Specifically, that no group can and should think that it could come up with any ridiculous demand and compel the Board to yield to their pressure, just as HOSTCOM is doing even with all kinds of blackmail and outright falsehood
9. That the sticking point in the ongoing disturbance is that HOSTCOM requested the Board to train 1000 persons and submitted the names to the Board, expecting the Board to accept their list without question.
10. That Board turned down the bogus list as there is no budget to accommodate such an unreasonable demand. Contrary to HOSTCOM’s false assertion, the Board did not at any time agree to train 1000 persons submitted by HOSTCOM.
11. That HOSTCOM now wants to compel the Board to train the 1000 persons they submitted to the Board without regard to the Board’s training plan and budget, particularly because the leaders of HOSTCOM had allegedly extorted various sums of money from each of the nominees.
12. Realizing that the nominees they have extorted money from would vent their anger on them, the HOSTCOM leaders became restive and took to the street in a desperate move to arm twist the Board to give into their inordinate demand and to cover their act.
13. That leaders of HOSTCOM have threatened the lives of some NCDMB personnel and their families over this impasse and the threats have been duly reported to the relevant security agencies for thorough investigation.
14. It is important to mention that under the leadership of Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote the Board has continued to train many Bayelsa youths in various skills sets, especially in high impact areas of the oil and gas industry and linkage sectors that position the beneficiaries for employment or self-reliance.
15. That by our training records, the people of Bayelsa are the highest beneficiaries of the Board’s Human Capital Development Program.
16. That even our 2020 training of 243 people conducted in partnership with Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Bayelsans benefited the most; there is yet another upcoming training that the Board is working with the ITF, which would incorporate nominees from the list submitted by the HOSTCOM Group.
17. It should be borne in mind that NCDMB is a federal agency and that our activities and programs must impact every part of the country.
18. Thus, the Board did partner with sister agencies in the Oil and Gas Industry to train some internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North East in certain crafts under the Federal Government’s Policy for rebuilding the North East Region which was ravaged by insurgency. It is this training that Hostcom is mischievously referring to and demanding same for its members without carrying out background checks on the number of MDAs that delivered the alleged training in some of the northern states.
19. It is on record that most of the Board’s critical projects, programmes, and partnerships have been deliberately sited in Bayelsa State as part of the Board’s strategy to industrialize the state and create employment opportunities for the indigenes. Similarly, many of the vendors engaged by the Board in the ongoing projects are Bayelsa indigenes.
20. Some of the projects and programs of the Board in Bayelsa State alone include:
i. Nigerian Content Tower – the tallest and most sophisticated building in the South-South and South-East parts of Nigeria; Trained 250 Bayelsans on various artisanal skills; Engaged trained youths in the construction of the project and Engaged Bayelsa indigenes in construction supplies.
ii. Ultra-modern town hall built for the Swali Community.
iii Engagement of over 200 youths, mostly from Swali Community in the maintenance of the Nigerian Content Tower and support services.
iv. Provision of uninterrupted power supply to key offices of the Bayelsa State Government.
v. Training of over 600 science and mathematics teachers across Bayelsa State,
vi. Construction and equipping of several ICT & Science Laboratories across the state; Renovated classrooms.
vii. Sponsorship of the Annual Science Quiz for Secondary Schools in Bayelsa since 2013.
viii. Training of 50 Physically Challenged Youths on artisanal skills and provided them with starter packs and grants for take-off.
ix. Building of AKER Subsea Solutions Training Centre at Opolo for high level oil and gas manpower training.
x. Sponsorship of 20+ Bayelsa youths in International Cadet Sea time Training. The beneficiaries got sea-berth experience onboard foreign going vessels across USA, Singapore, Egypt, India and acquired Certificate of Competency Training for the Cadets.
xi. Ongoing development of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Park Scheme (NOGaPS) in Emeyal 1 Bayelsa State. The project employs Bayelsa indigenes in construction & supplies. Project would create 2000 jobs when operational, and taxes for the state government.
xii. Partnership with RUNGAS Ltd in the ongoing development of 400,000 units/year Composite LPG Cylinder Manufacturing plant at Polaku Bayelsa State. The project employs Bayelsa indigenes in construction and supplies.
xiii. Partnership with Azikel Petrochemical Company in the development of 12,000 barrels per day modular refinery at Gbarain. The construction is ongoing and completion date planned for Q4 2024.
xiv. Partnership with Atlantic Petrochemical Company for the development of Modular Refinery at Okpoama, Brass. Project is under construction with completion expected in 2022
xv. Partnership in the establishment of Eraskon Lube Oil Blending Plant at Gbarain.
xvi. Partnership with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemical Company Limited and DSV Engineering in the establishment of 10,000 Ton Methanol Production Plant, Odioama, Brass.
xvii. Partnership with NNPC and ZED Energy in the establishment of Brass Petroleum Products Terminal, Okpoama, Brass. The project would create 1000 direct jobs during construction and 5000 jobs during operations.
xviii. Establishment of R&D Center of Excellence in the Niger Delta University
xix. Donation of Economics Laboratory to the Niger Delta University, equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and powered by a 30 KVA generating set with a backup 10 KVA inverter.
xx. Donation of ventilators to some Federal, State-Owned and Private Hospital in Bayelsa State to help curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
xxi. Donation of ambulances, special medical supplies and food to the Governments and people of Bayelsa in support of efforts to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
xxii. Hosting of annual international conferences like the Practical Nigerian Content Conference (PNC), Nigerian Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair (NOGOF), Research and Development Fair, African Local Content Roundtable Workshop and other events which attract oil and gas delegates to Bayelsa and boosts the state economy.
20. Conclusion: It is regrettable that the mischievous actions of HOSTCOM is forcing the Board to bring into the public domain some of these special projects sited in Bayelsa, which could make stakeholders in other oil producing states to feel that NCMDB has not been fair to them.
21. Finally, we wish to enjoin all groups and stakeholders in Bayelsa State to eschew selfish interests and support the Board in its quest to catalyze the industrialization of the state through the localization of critical oil and gas projects and activities in the state to create job and other economic benefits for the state.