Lagos — The Management of the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board, NCDMB has described as “spurious and malicious” a story published by an online medium where the petroleum minister, Timipre Sylva was accused to have demands $20 Million from the Executive Secretary of the the Board, Engr. Simbi Wabote to fund Bayelsa Re-Run Elections.
In a statement on Thursday, the Board said it was constrained to react because “sponsors of the wicked tissues of lies are intent on tarnishing the good image of the Board” and those of Wabote and Sylva.
“We verily believe that this outright fabrication was sponsored by those angling to contest for the senatorial elections in Bayelsa West Senatorial District, who are in the habit of concocting wild allegations to distract the NCDMB and lure us into local politics”.
Stating some reasons, the NCDMB said there was no iota of truth in the story, adding that it was *completely mendacious and a figment of the imagination of those behind it”.
The Board said from inception in 2010 till date, NCDMB has never been pressurised or required to sponsor anything that has partisan colouration
“The current Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva has never demanded nor suggested to the Board and its leadership to fund any political activity in Bayelsa or any part of the country”
“It said as a federal agency, NCDMB is focused on its statutory mandate as enshrined in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development, NOGICD Act”
The statement argued that the Nigerian Content Development Fund, NCDF was instituted for funding capacity development in oil and gas activities and cannot be applied for any other purpose except that expressly stated in the NOGICD Act.
“It is preposterous to allege that the Minister is demanding $20m from NCDMB to fund elections, whereas all funds belonging to the Federal Government are in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria and NCDMB’s funds cannot be withdrawn except for legitimate purposes consistent with its mandate. Thus it is absurd and unreasonable to contemplate or imagine that the Board can withdraw any money from the NCDF except for any of the purposes it was instituted under the Act”.
Accordingly it said the status of NCDMB finances are in the public domain and can be verified by anyone or group that is so interested; adding that that was why the Executive Secretary has consistently announced the balance sheet and utilisation of NCDF at every oil and gas fora.
“Contrary to the wicked suggestion in the story, NCDMB has never awarded any contract to the Minister or any company connected to him and neither has the Board awarded contracts for shore protection in Brass LGA of Bayelsa State because it is clearly outside our statutory mandate”.
“It is pertinent to state that NEITI declared NCDMB as the most transparent federal oil and gas agency and the Board achieved this lofty feat because our operations are always complaint with government’s financial regulations”
NCDMB said it has initiated several oil and gas projects in Bayelsa State and engendered multiple investments that are geared to uplift the people and the economy.
*Therefore we demand that political gladiators in the state should spare us distractions and negative reportage that are capable of creating disincentive for investments”.
It said the Board’s financial processes and operations are always open and transparent, adding that its leadership has never been manipulated and cannot be influenced to favour individuals or political parties, no matter how highly placed because what the Board does must be in line with its mandate in the NOGICD Act
It said one would have expected that if the said online medium were a credible media outfit, to conduct a thorough investigation with a view to validating the veracity of the story before going to press.
*But in this case, it was a mere conjecture by the authors to please their sponsors”.
“From the foregoing, it is obvious that this story was calculated to malign the Board, its leadership and the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, to score cheap political points and create disaffection. Going forward, the Board will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action against any individual or media organizations that publish materials that are spurious, malicious and libelous”.