• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Needless reversals at NCDMB: Senator Lokpobiri goofed

Prolonged Seplat/Exxonmobil deal is costing Nigeria 480,000 bpd- Minister

Today, the stakes are extremely high and Nigerians are mindful that a failure to achieve democratic stability, through a meritorious, transparent, pragmatic governance process may imperil the country’s future as a coherent state.

As it were, midweek, dodgy politics apparently trumped policy when the needless friction between the Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development Board (NCDMB), Felix Ogbe, on the surface, boiled over with regards to staff redeployment and other decisions in the organization by the ES.

A fallout of the incident was the preemptory reversal of administrative actions taken by NCDMB’s Executive Secretary who redeployed some management staff to ramp up and recalibrate performance.

Midweek, Lokpobiri sent a curious warning letter to Ogbe, accusing him of flouting extant rules. In the letter Lokpobiri alleged that no part of the NCDMB Act empowers the executive secretary to redeploy or appoint management staff.

He speciously argued that the NCDMB management is answerable to the board led by him (Lokpobiri), explaining that Ogbe therefore does not have the power to redeploy, appoint or employ management staff.

The letter read in part: “The personnel announcement signed by the Executive Secretary (ES) NCDMB dated 4th March 2024 with Ref No. NCDMB/ES/1/001/03/24 redeploying some management staff of the board refers.

“It has become imperative to empathically state that the Nigeria oil and gas industry Content Act 2010 does not empower the executive secretary to redeploy or appoint management staff.

“Section 8 (2) (b) of the Act states ‘that the Executive Secretary is responsible to the Council for the execution of the policies and the administration of the daily affairs of the board.”

Incidentally, Senator Lokpobiri last week in Abuja, inaugurated the 4th Governing Council of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

Hear him: “The executive secretary is strongly advised not to usurp the powers of the governing council on any subject matter. In the light of the above, the redeployments announced by the ES to all staff on March 4, 2024 is hereby overturned.”

The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) was established in 2010 by the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act. NCDMB is vested with the mandate to make procedures that will guide, monitor, coordinate and implement the provisions of the NOGICD Act signed into law on April 22, 2010.

Key functions of the Board include: To review, assess and approve Nigerian Content plans developed by operators. To set guidelines and minimum content levels for project related activities across the oil and gas value chain. To engage in targeted capacity building interventions that would deepen indigenous capabilities – Human Capital Development, Infrastructure & Facilities; Manufactured Materials & Local Supplier Development.

It is also to grow and manage the Nigerian Content Development Fund; establish, maintain and operate the Joint Qualification System (NOGICJQS) in conjunction with industry stakeholders and to monitor Nigerian Content Compliance by operators and service providers.

This will be in terms of cumulative spending, employment creation and sourcing of local goods, service and materials utilized on projects and operations. To award Certificate of Authorization for projects that complies with Nigerian Content provisions. To conduct studies, research, investigation, workshops and trainings aimed at advancing the development of Nigerian Content.

NCDMB’s core mission is to promote the development and utilization of in-country capacities for the industrialization of Nigeria through the effective implementation of the Nigerian Content Act.

In effect the actions taken by the ES fall within his remit. No amount of waffling and ego-tripping by Lokpobiri can change that.

The NCDMB governing council is set up under the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act and draws membership from representatives of select institutions connected with the oil and gas industry.

The board is chaired by Lokpobiri, while the executive secretary of NCDMB, Ogbe, serves as the secretary of the council.

Other members include the Executive Vice President, Gas, Power, and New Energy, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Mrs. Oritsemeyiwa Eyesan and the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, among others.

In the official communication, Lokpobiri essentially reversed the actions taken by the ES, urging those impacted by the decision to redeploy and appoint to maintain status quo.

Just as the Minister of Finance has not dabbled into the actions being executed by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Lokpobiri should not interfere with the managerial actions of NCDMB’s ES.

Lokpobiri has managed to shoot himself on the foot by demonstrating that politics trumps policy, a key weakness of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.

Engr. Omatsola Ogbe who holds separate Masters Degrees in Civil Engineering and Construction Management is a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Council of Registered Engineers, and American Institute of Civil Engineers.

He has over 37 years of experience in core oil and gas operations in Nigeria and local content operations, notably onshore and offshore, LNG, Water Drilling, Treatment and Storage Facilities, Civil, Building and dredging Engineering, and other construction.

His work experiences include Chevron Corporation, where he held top positions in Nigeria and overseas, before he retired voluntarily in June 2014, to go into private business.

As offshore Projects Manager with Chevron, he was responsible for all the Engineering designs, Planning and execution of Maintenance works, and installation of new facilities to support productions in Chevron Nigeria Limited offshore locations. He has indeed earned his epaulettes and should not be rubbished by a politician who doesn’t know any better.

It is then a given that the leadership of Ministries, Departments, and agencies that manage critical governance responsibilities under the executive must be men and women, not just of integrity, but personalities who will not shy away from directly processing the facts and taking decisions on which success often pivots. Ego-tripping is simply out of this.

In this light, these folks vested with the responsibility of aiding the president to deliver genuine governance must approach their brief according to an understanding – according to a set of principles – that reflects a sense of the permanent destiny of the nation.

While President Tinubu had to grapple with the federal character provisions, which require one minister from each of the 36 states, he needed to strike a critical balance between technocrats and politicians. The main criterions for his choice of ministers needed not be absolute loyalty to self or party. Many had expected him to pick policy over politics. But what is playing out is obviously flaws from that selection template

Today, as Nigeria teeters on the precipice of state failure measured by all socio-political, security and economic parameters, the Jagaban of Borgu cannot afford to allow ego-tripping appointees trip him up.

The Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri simply need to step down over his damning gaffe at a very difficult period for the President

Chukwuma writes from Lagos