The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, has charged host communities of its major projects in Bayelsa State to protect and support the projects in their localities to ensure their timely completion and creation of job opportunities from their operations.
The Board made the charge during its maiden interactive session with representatives of host communities of the projects held recently in Yenagoa, the state capital.
According to the Board, the interactive session was convened to create a direct channel of communication between the NCDMB and the host communities to explain the economic opportunities expected from the projects and clarify the Board’s mandate and correct misconceptions that create frictions between the communities and the Board or with contractors on the projects.
During his presentation, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, outlined the various infrastructural schemes and human capital development initiatives being executed by the Board in Bayelsa state, which according to him, is in line with the Board’s mandate of developing local capacities and capabilities in the oil and gas industry and monitoring compliance and enforcing provisions of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development, NOGICD, Act.
Engr. Wabote said that the Nigerian Content Tower at Swali Yenagoa and the Nigerian Oil and Gas Park at Emeyal 1 in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State as two direct projects of the Board that have added significant value to the economy through the number of jobs created, skills transferred and spend retained in the state. He added that the Oil and Gas Park would incubate in-country manufacturing of oil and gas components and create over 2000 jobs when fully operational.
Engr. Wabote who was represented by the Board’s Director of Planning, Research & Statistics, Mr. Daziba Patrick Obah, explained that projects like the Rungas Gas composite cylinder manufacturing facility at Polaku, the Azikel modular refinery and Eraskon Lube Oil blending plant, both at Gbarain were being developed by private promoters with equity investments by the Board.
He further noted that the Atlantic Modular Refinery at Okpoama, the methanol production plant at Odioama and Brass Petroleum and Products Terminal, Okpoama were also being constructed in partnership with other institutional and private investors.
The NCDMB leader also explained that the Board partnered with third party investors with the intention of catalyzing those projects, domiciling critical oil and gas investments and creating job opportunities, after which it would divest its stakes from the investments.
He however clarified that NCDMB was not an interventionist agency for the Niger Delta region like the NDDC and Amnesty Office and was not saddled with the developmental and employment creation responsibilities of state governments.
“NCDMB is not an operating oil company like Shell and Chevron, or a servicing oil firm like Schlumberger. The Board is not exploiting any natural resource from your domain, rather we are bringing development, employment opportunities and industrialization. It is important to calibrate expectations and demands from the Board,” Wabote said.
According to him, members of the host communities of the projects have a duty to support the Board’s development efforts, stressing that “capital and investments easily get threatened and would readily move away from hostile grounds to localities that are more accommodating.”
In a goodwill message, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State, Mr. Wilfred Afolabi commended the NCDMB for convening the interactive meeting and expressed hope that it would curb recurring threats of protests by certain groups against the Board for frivolous reasons. He hinted that dialogue and negotiations were the best strategies for resolving issues between corporate organizations and stakeholder groups.
In their separate reactions, the representatives of the host communities, including Polaku, Swali, Elebele, Emeyal I, Odioama and Okpoama commended the Board for organizing the interactive session and the investments in the domain which had created employment opportunities and alleviated poverty.
The representatives of the communities noted that Bayelsa State has become very peaceful and attractive to investments and assured that their domains would continue to enjoy peace and security. They added that members of their communities were fully committed to the completion of the projects as they have been cooperating fully with the contractors.
They however requested the Board to set up community interface committees in all the project locations and for the interactive session with host communities to be held periodically.
They further solicited for capacity building and entrepreneurial training for youths in the host communities to enable them to participate fully in the value chain of the projects when completed. Some of the representatives also pleaded for employment opportunities for their youths and speedy delivery of the projects.
Responding to the leaders’ requests, Engr. Wabote promised that the Board would consider the requests and feedback and assured that qualified young persons from the host communities would be selected for trainings in key areas of oil and gas operations.
By Sunday Elom N