By Michael Eboh
The Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB), described as spurious and malicious, claims that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, demanded $20 million from Chief Executive Officer of the NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote, to fund the Bayelsa re-run elections.
In a statement in Abuja, Manager, Corporate Communications of the NCDMB, Mr. Naboth Onyesoh, disclosed that there was no iota of truth in the report, adding that the allegation was completely misleading, and a figment of the imagination of those behind it.
He said, “Ordinarily, the Board would have ignored this fake news, especially one planted in a notorious publication. However, we are constrained to react because sponsors of the wicked tissues of lies are intent on destroying the good image of the Board and strong reputation of the Executive Secretary, Engr. Simbi Wabote and that of the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, and portray the Board as partisan.
“We verily believe that this outright fabrication was sponsored by those angling to contest for the senatorial elections in Bayelsa West Senatorial District, who are in the habit of concocting wild allegations to distract the NCDMB and lure us into local politics.
“For the avoidance of doubt and to set the records straight, NCDMB wishes to state categorically as follows: There is no iota of truth in that story. It is completely mendacious and a figment of the imagination of those behind it; From inception in 2010 till date, NCDMB has never been pressurized or required to sponsor anything that has partisan colouration;
“The current Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva has never demanded nor suggested to the Board and its leadership to fund any political activity in Bayelsa or any part of the country, however, described. As a federal agency, NCDMB is focussed on its statutory mandate as enshrined in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act.
“The Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCDF) was instituted for funding capacity development in oil and gas activities and cannot be applied for any other purpose except that expressly stated in the NOGICD Act.
“It is preposterous to allege that the Minister is demanding $20 million from NCDMB to fund elections, whereas all funds belonging to the Federal Government are in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria and NCDMB’s funds cannot be withdrawn except for legitimate purposes consistent with its mandate. Thus, it is absurd and unreasonable to contemplate or imagine that the Board can withdraw any money from the NCDF except for any of the purposes it was instituted under the Act.”
Onyesoh further stated that the status of NCDMB finances were in the public domain and could be verified by anyone or group that is interested; adding that that was the reason why the Executive Secretary has consistently announced the balance sheet and utilization of NCDF at every oil and gas fora.
He insisted that the NCDMB’s financial processes and operations were always open and transparent, noting that the Board and its leadership had never been manipulated and would not be influenced to favour individuals or political parties, no matter how highly placed, especially as everything the Board does must be in line with its mandate in the NOGICD Act
He said, “Contrary to the wicked suggestion in the story, NCDMB has never awarded any contract to the Minister or any company connected to him and neither has the Board awarded contracts for shore protection in Brass LGA of Bayelsa State because it is clearly outside our statutory mandate.
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“It is pertinent to state that NEITI declared NCDMB as the most transparent federal oil and gas agency and the Board achieved this lofty feat because our operations are always compliant with government’s financial regulations.
“NCDMB has initiated several oil and gas projects in Bayelsa State and engendered multiple investments that are geared to uplift the people and the economy. Therefore, we demand that political gladiators in the state should spare us distractions and negative reportage that are capable of creating a disincentive for investments.”