Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa on Wednesday expressed disappointment with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for holding its 6th Practical Nigerian Content Forum in Abuja.
Dickson, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Talford Ongolo, expressed his displeasure in his opening remarks at the forum in Abuja.
Quoting from the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act (2010), the governor said the head office of the council and board was required to be located in any oil and gas producing state.
He said that it was in clear violation of this provision that the NCDMB established an office in Abuja which is not an oil and gas producing area.
He said a lot of oil and gas-related activities and decisions of the board taking place in Abuja were wrong.
“Such activities would have improved the economic fortunes of Bayelsa and other neighbouring oil and gas producing states.
“It is our further view that any expenditure of public funds in maintaining and managing the said Abuja office is illegal and unlawful.
“Public funds cannot be expended to run an illegal office. This is worse than spending public funds on a project not provided for in an Appropriation Act,’’ he said.
Dickson further said that operators in the oil and gas sector were required by law to have operational offices in the state.
“It is sad to note that these companies have refused to establish such offices; rather they control their extraction activities from other states in the country.
“Section 27 of the Act clearly invested NCDMB with robust powers to require the companies to open or maintain such offices but the board is yet to summon the needed courage to enforce the law.
“It is important to note that the existence of such functional offices would assist in lifting the state out of its present economic situation,’’ the governor said.
He, however, said that “it is highly encouraging’’ that the board had started building its head office in Yenagoa and urged a fast track of the project for people in the region to feel its impact.
He called on the 8th National Assembly to consider the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, saying its implementation will revolutionise the Nigerian content in the sector.
The NCDMB Executive Secretary, Simbi Wabote, acknowledged issues raised by the governor but noted that the Abuja office was a liaison office.
Wabote said: “I guess that is why Bayelsa also has a liaison office in Abuja.
“To lend credence to what you have said, I have also made it very clear that when I am in Abuja it would be to attend meetings with connection to the Federal Government.
“Any other meeting with stakeholders is going to happen in Bayelsa State. I also share your vision in oil producing companies establishing their functional presence in Bayelsa State.’’
He said such offices would accelerate the otherwise lengthy period for contract circle.
On the issue of Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, Wabote said: “I share your views; there’s no reason why it should be in Abuja.
“If for anything, we are going to rotate the activities within the oil producing states until Abuja is able to find oil then we will come here too.’’
Wabote had said that the board would develop a blueprint on how funds would be utilised to support local content development in the industry.
The Practical Nigerian Content is an annual conference that aims to draw attention of oil and gas operators to patronise local content as a key to reducing costs, increasing efficiency and creating value and employment.
The conference had the theme “Re-energising Nigerian Content Initiatives for Today’s Oil and Gas Market’’.