Lokpobiri, Wabote clash over $500m NCDMB funds, unfinished projects

Friday Ajagunna
Friday Ajagunna
Heineken Lokpobiri

Heineken Lokpobiri, minister of state for petroleum resources (oil), says the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), under the leadership, of Simbi Wabote, the board’s former executive secretary, wasted over $500 million of the oil industry’s funds.

On April 17, Lopkobiri, speaking at an event organised by the Petroleum Club, said Wabote ‘wasted funds’ and paid $35 million for the Brass modular refinery in Bayelsa state “without anything to show for it”.

In his response on April 22, Wabote said his fallout with the minister started when one of his undocumented aides, named Blackson, requested “me to increase the NCDMB budget by N30 billion for the office of the minister and I said it had never been done before”.

“I served two ministers and none of them has ever made such a request to NCDMB; that we only make provision for the office of the chairman of the council, which covers his travel expenses,” he said

In a statement on April 23 by Nneamaka Okafor, the minister’s spokesperson, Lokpobiri insisted that Wabote spent funds on equity investments in private establishments and in loans that are now non-performing.

The minister, reacting to Wabote’s stance that his office requested an increase in the NCDMB budget by N30 billion for the office of the minister, said it “is a blatant lie”.

“Our position is that he who alleges must prove same. So, if Mr. Wabote has proof of such conversation, he is challenged to provide same,” Okafor said.

“Secondly, the minister has no assistant called Blackson. All his aides were duly selected in line with extant laws and have documents to that effect.”

The minister challenged Wabote to show Nigerians the Atlantic Refinery, which was supposed to be built in his hometown, asking journalists to visit the site.

‘’Fourthly, the Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemical Company was also paid for, and you are welcome to also visit the site to verify the facts for yourself,” the minister said.


The minister said investigations are ongoing, the truth will soon be revealed, and monies belonging to Nigerians will be recovered.

‘’Let me add that these revelations are not new, they were first made during an investigative hearing of the House of Representatives committee on local content. Again, the records are there, and you are welcome to verify these facts,” Lokpobiri said.

‘’The Minister has never been part of the budgeting process of any parastatal under the Ministry, you are welcome to visit these agencies to verify for yourself.

‘’Finally, the Minister’s office is run with a budget superintended by the permanent secretary and so one will wonder, how the Minister will ask another entity to make provisions for the budget of his Office. The Minister has an impeccable record from his time as Minister of Agriculture and will continue to stand for the truth.”

According to the statement, Lokpobiri, who is also chairman of the governing council of the NCDMB, will not abdicate his responsibility to please anyone.

The minister said he has a responsibility to ensure what belongs to Nigerians is judiciously utilised.

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