By Dipo Olowookere
Youths in Bayelsa State under the aegis of the Ijaw Youth Congress (Central Zone) have apologised for staging a demonstration against the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, recently over claims that the board had moved its core operations to Abuja and Lagos.
Youths from the IYC Central Zone, numbering over 100 had invaded the NCDMB headquarters at Opolo on August 31, 2017.
They pulled down part of the perimeter fence and disrupted work, alleging also that the headquarters building project had been slowed down deliberately.
But Chairman of the IYC Central Zone, Mr Tare Porri, who led the demonstration then, returned to the board last week on a courtesy visit and apologized for the group’s ill-advised conduct.
He explained that their action was not targeted at the Executive Secretary, Engr. Simbi Wabote, as the issues predated his appointment in September 2016.
Mr Porri, who recalled that the IYC Central Zone had worked cordially with the Board over the years, averred that “if the Abuja and Lagos offices are for administrative purposes, they should be maintained. We are only opposed to branch offices, which will weaken the operations of the head office.”
The IYC lead also pleaded with the Board to accelerate work on the Polaku pipemill project and the Oil and Gas Park project, being developed in Bayelsa State, as the projects will employ thousands of youths during construction and operation phases.
He also sought the Board’s assistance to enable Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from the Niger Delta states access the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund, so they could grow capacities and win industry contracts.
The IYC leader further requested collaboration on various capacity building initiatives, including a planned workshop on the processes of setting up and running modular refineries, as a strategy of dissuading youths from illegal refining.
In his response, the Executive Secretary accepted the apology from the IYC and charged the group to protect and provide an enabling environment for the Board, being that it is the only federal establishments with its headquarters in the state. “IYC must work to attract investments and prove that citizens of the state are peace loving.”
Mr Wabote reiterated that the Board established a liaison office in Abuja to support its interaction with key arms of government and relevant agencies while the Lagos office is to help effectively monitor oil and gas companies, many of which have their facilities in the city.
He explained that the Polaku pipemill project would be developed as a private investment and the Board’s role was limited to providing primary infrastructure to catalyze the project and guarantee industry patronage when completed. He revealed that the Board had received a fresh interest from an investor, after the first two companies that showed interest in the past failed to concretize their investment plans.
The Executive Secretary also stated that the Board was working progressively on the Nigerian Oil and Gas Park and was partnering with the Bayelsa State Government to build a 25 megawatts independent power plant which will supply electricity to the park located at Emeyal, Ogbia Local Government Area, the government house, state owned hospital, NCDMB new headquarters and the Bayelsa airport. “We are developing it on the back of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company’s Zabazaba deepwater project and the design has been completed.”
He added, “We are working to complete our headquarters building by December 2018 and if we can have it powered by an IPP, companies will set up offices in our building and we will change the narrative.”
The Executive Secretary also promised to support the IYC with the planned workshop on modular refineries, noting that the Board works with any group that seeks to add value to the society.
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