The Nigeria Local Content Act of 2010 provided a lead to the establishment and proper functioning of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB). Before the enactment of that Act, the administration of Nigerian Local Content in the Oil & Gas industry lacked the crucial ingredient of a proper enabler which meant that most of the value created in the industry were not subject to proper evaluation and enforcement for the core requirements and global standard in respect of Local Content.  

The 2010 Local Content Act stated clearly that the promotion of Nigerian content development shall be a major criterion for the award of licenses, permits, and any other interest in bidding for oil exploration, production, transportation, and development or any other operations in Nigerian Oil and Gas industry. And to that effect, the Act charged the Board to implement the provisions “to ensure a measurable and continuous growth of Nigerian content in all oil and gas arrangements, projects, operations, activities or transactions in the Nigerian oil and gas industry”. This in itself is a phenomenal task knowing the somewhat many complexes and contending interests in the volatile Oil & Gas Industry.

To bring to life the letter and spirit of the 2010 Local Content Act, the NCDMB needed to be led by a very qualified and competent professional who has deep knowledge of the intricacies of administering Local Content requirements of a boisterous Oil & Gas Industry such as Nigeria’s every dynamic environment. Not only in terms of knowledge but also someone who has faith in the country and understands the vision of Government in the establishment of the board.  Engr. Simbi K. Wabote was appointed as the Executive Secretary Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) by President Muhammad Buhari (GCFR) on the 29th of September 2016. After a successful first term, he was reappointed on 25th September 2020 for another term to consolidate on the achievements garnered during his first term. Before his appointment, he was an Executive Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Nigeria Limited and General Manager Business and Government Relations for Shell Companies in Nigeria (SCiN).

Engr. Wabote joined Shell in September 1991 as an Oil and Gas Engineer after a short stint with the Banking industry in Nigeria. He served Shell in various senior positions within Nigeria and several countries in Africa, Europe, North America, Middle East, Asia, and new frontier countries in Engineering, Local Content Development, Contracting & Procurement, Government Relations, and Community Affairs.  The fact speaks clearly to the effect that his recorded achievements in the NCDMB is visible enough and has brought about an evidenced change in the way local content issues are applied. In a little over four years as the Executive Secretary, Engr. Wabote has reinvigorated the operations of the NCDMB and developed the Nigerian Content 10-Year road map to grow Nigerian Content to 70 percent by 2027.  He spearheaded the rapid development of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Park in Odukpani, Cross Rivers State and Emeyal-1, Bayelsa, State, and the launch of the $200m (USD) Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI Fund) to provide low cost and accessible credit to service companies. The fund was subsequently increased to US$350m in 2020, to cater for increased allocations.

He brought his project management skills into the construction of the Board’s new headquarters building complex, leading to the completion of a 17-story office building, 1,000 seating auditorium, and multi-level car park. He also pioneered the development and oversaw the deployment of Service Level Agreements (SLA) between the Board and the Nigeria LNG, Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) and Indigenous Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG), which has reduced the tendering cycle time to six months and fast tracks development of new projects. Under his watch, NCDMB catalyzed the successful integration of one of the largest Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) in-country at the SHI-MCI yard in the LADOL Free Trade Zone and facilitated in-country integration of six modules on the Egina FPSO, the first time in the entire Gulf of Guinea.

Engr. Wabote also introduced key signature events into the oil and gas industry calendar such as the bi-annual Nigerian Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair (NOGOF) and the Nigerian Research and Development Fair (R&D Fair), to showcase the oil industry’s opportunities for investment and galvanize research capabilities respectively. He has also used the annual Practical Nigeria Content Conference and Exhibition to set the agenda for the industry going forward.

It energizes Local Refining, Engr. Wabote championed NCDMB’s equity investment in Waltersmith’s modular refinery and Azikel Modular refinery and other strategic capacity development initiatives in the hydrocarbon value-chain in line with the Board’s vision to catalyze the industrialization of the Nigerian oil and gas sector.

Amongst many others, some of the major landmark achievements of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) under Engr. Simbi Wabote as Executive Secretary is; The Oil & Gas Parks Scheme where the NCDMB has made remarkable progress with the development of three (3) oil and gas parks, located in Odukpani, Cross River, Emeyal-1 in Bayelsa State and Ikwe, in Onna LGA, Akwa Ibom State. The parks will domicile and domesticate manufacturing in-country, especially critical oil and gas equipment, tools, and spare parts. Construction has reached advanced stages in Bayelsa and Cross River states respectively and will create about 2000 jobs per park when completed.

            Another is the Completion and Commissioning of NCDMB Corporate Headquarters. NCDMB has completed and commissioned its 17-story headquarters building in Swali, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, built by Megastar Construction, an indigenous contractor. The Nigerian Content Tower is the tallest edifice in the South-South and southeast regions of the country and was completed within five years. It generated about 250,000 direct and indirect jobs and provided ample opportunity for artisanal skills development and other capacity-building opportunities.

            Remarkably, Engr. Wabote led the effort in Investment in Modular Refineries. Through this initiative, NCDMB Invested substantial equity in Waltermith’s 5000 barrels per day (BPD) modular refinery located in Ibigwe, Imo State. The refinery was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in November. NCDMB also invested in Azikel’s 12,000 BPD hydro-skimming modular refinery in Bayelsa State. The Board’s capital injection and institutional backing energized the construction of the refineries is leading to nearly 1000 new employments and expected value addition to our hydrocarbon resources and reduction in pipeline vandalism, product theft, and other social vices. The Azikel’s project is projected to be ready in 2021.

            In taking care of them now and future needs in Gas Cylinder Manufacturing and Pressure Metering Plant, NCDMB is catalyzing the establishment of a 400,000/year Type-3 LPG Cylinders manufacturing plant at Polaku, Bayelsa State by Rungas Prime Industries Ltd. The Board allotted two hectares of land at Polaku to the firm and will also support it with equity investment. NCDMB is also supporting Shell Nigeria Gas (SNG) towards the development of a Pressure Reduction and Metering Station at Polak. NCDMB signed an agreement with SNG for the lease of one hectare of Polaku land for the investment. On Gas based Investments, NCDMB has secured approvals to support the establishment of a 168,000MT per annum loading and off-loading LPG terminal in Koko, Delta State, and another facility in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, dedicated to the production of 48,000 liters/day base oil from used engine oil.

            Through the Support for ICT & Stem Education, NCDMB has set up about 30 ICT labs in secondary schools across Nigeria and trained over 1,000 teachers as part of the Board’s intervention in STEM education. Equally, with Support for VTE the Board is carrying out upgrade works in two Vocational Education institutions in Abak and Amoli and recently completed a specialized program for fifty (50), Electrical Engineers trained at the Lagos Energy Academy under a partnership with AOS Orwell. 60 percent of the trainees’ secured employments with engineering firms based in Nigeria and overseas.

Another landmark program is the Project 100 Initiative through which NCDMB is implementing Project 100, an initiative that identified 100 oil and gas start-ups and deployed special institutional interventions for their incubation, maturation, and growth into world-class service companies. The selected companies will enjoy special interventions, including access to capacity building, funding, and access to the market.

Within this short period, the NCDMB has ensured the Increase of the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund from US$200m to US$350m. The Board introduced affordable credit to several qualifying oil and gas companies. The total pool of funds was initially US$200m, but owing to the success of the scheme, it was increased to US$350m. The NCI Fund provides affordable credit for Nigerian oil and gas service companies and community contractors with a single-digit interest rate and one-year moratorium. The Fund enhanced the capacity of local service companies and enabled job creation for thousands of Nigerians.

In line with the mandate job creation, the Establishment FPSO Integration Facility where NCDMB catalyzed the construction and integration of Egina FPSO modules (deep offshore drilling and storage ship) for the first time in Nigeria and the entire Gulf of Guinea. This resulted in the creation of 3000 jobs across five years and fabrication of 60,000 tonnages of steel and the establishment of a 500-meter integration quayside in Lagos for future construction, integration, and maintenance of FPSOs.

            Also, the Introduction of SLAs. By doing this,NCDMB introduced the Service Level Agreement (SLA) between it and critical oil and gas operating companies and other key industry stakeholders. One of the wonderful outcomes was the record-breaking reduction in the duration between the approval of the NC Plan and the signing of LOI for the NLNG Train-7 project to 5 months and approval of the Nigerian Content compliance for the commercial evaluation within 48hours of submission to the Board.  For efficiency, the board under the leadership of Engr. Wabote ensured the Automation of NCDMB’s Processes. NCDMB initiated full automation of the Nigerian Content processes, notably the application and approval of expatriate quota approvals, Nigerian Content Plan, Nigerian Content Equipment Certification, and Nigerian Content Compliance Certificate. This initiative has promoted efficiency and effective service delivery in the oil and gas industry.

            Added to the above was the Deployment of a New Monitoring and Evaluation Template through which NCDMB reengineered and deployed new Monitoring and Compliance Template for Nigerian Content Monitoring and Evaluation. The new framework simplifies the processes and procedures for reporting Nigerian Content performance. It also enhances the speed of compliance and quality of data gathering.

Invariably, the Introduction of Nigerian Content 10-Year Strategic Road Map through which NCDMB deployed a 10-year Nigerian Content Strategic Road Map, which delineates the activity schedule, new milestones towards increasing Nigerian Content performance from 28% to 70% by 2027 remains one of the laudable initiatives of the current board. This will result in the creation of 300, 000 jobs and retain US$14bn in-country out of the US$20bn annual industry spends.

            Other remarkable achievements recorded by the Engr. Wab0te board also includes the Deployment of Third Party Monitors to ensure effective monitoring of operating and service companies, drive compliance and deepen Local Content performance in the industry, the Marine Vessel Categorization with a bid to increase indigenous participation, manning and ownership in marine operations of the oil and gas industry, the Women in Oil & Gas with which NCDMB created a special platform to support women participation in the oil and gas sector. Under this initiative, the Board has begun to champion gender-friendly policies on access to funding, the award of contracts, and support for research and development. Also, the Launch of $50m R&D Intervention Fund through which NCDMB created a $50m Nigerian Content Research & Development Fund, to drive innovation in the oil and gas industry and support inventors in the sector while Championing Africa Local Content by which NCDMB has been providing guidance and sharing its expertise with sister African countries that want to institute Local Content policies in their countries. The Board has provided such support to Ghana, Gabon, Kenya, Niger, Uganda, Congo-Brazzaville. 

            There are also the Ministerial Regulations waiting on the Honorable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources to sign-off; the Extension of Local Content Act to other Sectors through which the NCDMB is working closely with the Nigerian Content Committees in the Senate and the House on the extension of the coverage of the NOGICD Act. Such sectors include power, ICT, Science & Technology. Other Effective Collaborations with several ministries, departments, and agencies in the quest for effective implementation of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Development Act. Such partnerships were initiated with the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, NIMASA, Customs, EFCC, Bank of Industry, Bureau of Statistics, among others.

The NCDMB has also undertaken some Intervention efforts in the North-East region where the NCDMB Team trained 107 internally displaced persons in the North-East region. The IDPs were trained in plumbing, welding, carpentry, bead making, general electrician, GSM phone repairs, soft skills, and soap making. The Board also provided the trainees with starter packs, created an online marketing platform, and registered them as cooperative associations.  The Board also conducted a three months mentorship program where the trainees passed through entrepreneurship training by Industrial Training Fund and were assigned to construction sites and productive ventures.   In the same vein is the GSM Training for 1000 Persons in Kano, the Training of 1000 Yobe Youths on GSM Repairs, and Training of 255 youths in vocational skills.

It is worthy of note that what these vary audacious achievements point to is the fact that Engr. Wabote has been able to transform the Nigeria Oil and Gas industry through robust initiatives with NCDMB as the Local Content only agency of repute and results to show. It is o note that through the various initializes in Nigeria under the leadership of the Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, many other African Oil Producing countries are following the local content program as enshrined in the Act 2010. These initiatives have helped to encourage Nigerian owed Oil & Gas Companies while also encouraging local refining. To his effort as the Executive Secretary, Engr. Wabote has ensured that Nigeria gained a lot from the local content through the drastic reduction in foreign labor and capital flights.

According to Moses Siloko Siasia, Chairman of the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF), in research done between 2019 and 2020 for its foreign developmental partners which are meant to measure growth in the public sector space, Siasia said that the result showed that NCDMB led by Engr. Wabote is the best performing Agency of government under President Muhammadu Buhari. Findings contained in the research showed that NCDMB led others in Corporate Governance and other critical benchmarks.

Engineer Simbi Kesiye Wabote holds an MS.C from Leeds Metropolitan University and he graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, as well as a graduate of INSEAD Group Leadership Program. He has very sound technical and business competencies with proficient skills in Engineering, Project Management, Local Content Strategic Development, Human Capacity Building, Government Relations, and Stakeholders Management. He is also a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and a COREN Registered engineer and a member Institute of Civil Engineers in London. Born on 2nd February 1966, Engr. Wabote is a Nigerian from Bayelsa State and is married to Sotonye and both have three lovely daughters.

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