Local Content Board Chair Decries Low Access to $600m Fund

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By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, (NCDMB), Mr. Simbi Wabote, yesterday decried the inability of Nigerian business firms in the oil and gas sector to access the $600 million Nigerian Content Fund (NCF) meant to address financial and liquidity challenges of companies operating within the industry.

Wabote, who spoke in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, while marking the board’s first 100 days on the saddle, listed the inauguration of several projects, massive staff training, and the adherence to the act setting up the body as part of its achievements.
He told journalists during the event, that though the NCMDB had since its creation six years ago, increased local participation in the oil and gas industry from three per cent to 28 per cent, his plan was to accelerate the pace during his tenure.
“Like I mentioned in Lagos, only three organisations have accessed the fund. Not being able to put the funds to work is a failure. Secondly, we are trying to take stock with where we are today with the implementation of the act; we have not been able to implement in totality”, the former Shell executive said.

On the tortuous contracting period, he said, “We will identity the gaps and areas we need to improve upon. Contracting cycle time has been reduced considerably where the industry was when this administration took over.
“A lot of progress has been made. The minister has set a target for six months and all agencies concerned are working to meet the target. It will not happen overnight.
“Most of the contracts in the industry going to foreign companies, now come to Nigerians. We are compiling the amount of contracts we have been able to give to Nigerians in the past 100 days.”

According to him, one of the things the board set out to do was to bring staff competence at par with the oil and gas industry.
On the controversy surrounding the actual value of the NCDMB fund, he said: “In this country, people like to throw in numbers and assume the position of knowledge what they actually don’t know anything about. Believe in the direct source.
“We have a fund of 600m dollars. We are also conducting an audit to know who and who is holding our money.”