Protest Against Simbi Wabote’s Renewal of Term As The Executive Secretary, NCDMB
By John Ayebabaralate Okhai
It is with great reluctance that I am lending my voice to the recent development, wherein some Bayelsans, largely from my party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, are kicking against the tenure renewal of the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Eng. Simbi .K. Wabote.
One thing cannot be questioned about the man in the eye of the storm, his competence and vast experience in the oil and gas industry. Simply put, Eng. Simbi Wabote is a square peg in a square hole. And he has demonstrated his dexterity on the job with a plethora of developmental strides that has been greeted with applause, even from his most ardent critics.
Personally, I am proud of these strides, especially because Bayelsa is the greatest beneficiary of his infrastructural development. The 17-storey edifice he erected at Swali, Yenagoa, which serves as the agency’s headquarter building, is an architectural masterpiece that has added aesthetic beauty to the landscape of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital. It has as well created job opportunities for a handful of Bayelsans in the process.
Some other heart-warming infrastructural development by the agency’s Executive Secretary, includes the construction of an Oil and Gas Park in Emeyal, Ogbia Local Government Area.
Yenagoa, the state capital is a great beneficiary of Simbi’s infrastructural development in the state. In addition to the siting of the NCDMB headquarters in Yenagoa, there’s also a Subsea Learning Centre, located at Opolo, while Polaku, a community under Yenagoa L.G.A has a Gas Cylinder Manufacturing Plant.
Brass Local Government Area also has a modern science Laboratory in Twon, the Council headquarters, with a state of the art ICT centre in Okpoama. These are all geared towards human capital development, as well as economic empowerment. Bearing in mind that the NCDMB is not a wholly Bayelsa owned agency, Simbi deserves commendation and not condemnation.
Besides the infrastructural footprints he has etched on the soil of Bayelsa state, he has also facilitated quite a number of training programmes, and our people were beneficiaries of such laudable capacity building programmes.
What then could have necessitated the kind of outpour of hot lava on Simbi from those vehemently kicking against the renewal of his term as the Executive Secretary of the NCDMB? Are his traducers oblivious of his developmental strides? They have affirmed the irrefutable developmental strides of Simbi, and have gone further to commend him for that. But like Oliver Twist, they desire more and are asking for it. Their desire is simply gainful employment or engagement by the agency headed by one of their own.
Those opposing Simbi’s renewal of term have a right to vent their thoughts and express their desires for the gainful engagement of our people. It is my candid opinion however, that the current unsavoury development could have been avoided with effective communication in place. I think that is where Eng. Simbi missed it. Effective communication was out of place.
How do I mean? I have it on good authority that his hands are tied as far as employment in the agency is concerned, as there’s an embargo to that effect. How well was this communicated? Myself and a few others made frantic efforts to see him on this very issue. We wrote to him as well, drawing his attention to the desires of our people to be gainfully employed in his agency, sadly, not a response from him. With several visits there as follow-up to our letters, we still got no response.
I have harvested the thoughts of many of those kicking against the renewal of Simbi’s tenure in office, and I have noticed a recurring decimal. The employment of Easterners and Westerners at the detriment of Bayelsans and Niger Deltans. This is what I perceive to be the root cause of the outcry against Simbi.
Simbi may not have employed these persons, but then, it behooves him to look into the possibility of striking a balance that would give the agency’s host State a sense of belonging in the area of employment in the agency. This is a legitimate desire considering that the Niger Delta is the hen that lays the Nation’s golden egg. Its people should not be consigned to the backseat in the agency. This is not a call for the promotion of nepotism, no, far from it. The agency’s employment ratio should favour our people more or at least reflect the principle of federal character. I don’t think this is too much to ask for.
It would be foolhardy to throw away the baby with the bath water, by assuming that the proponents of his non-renewal of term in office are mischief makers that should be disregarded. I see Eng. Simbi as our best foot forward, given his pedigree, and would thus support his tenure renewal as the Executive Secretary of NCDMB. It is also my candid opinion that the issues raised be looked into, for they are germane.
We are in an interest-driven world, let’s not pretend about that. People fought to see Simbi get appointed as the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, it was a bitter war that pitched brothers against one another. If those in the trenches during the war are asking for consideration in the spoils of war, which Simbi’s current position represents, it would be mean to ignore their appeal for gainful employment/engagement.
The situation isn’t such a conundrum as it may appear, we can still kill two birds with one stone. We can push for the tenure renewal of Simbi as NCDMB Executive Secretary, as well as ensure that he in return, gives priority attention to the quest for gainful employment by our people into NCDMB. I believe we can achieve both.