Simbi Wabote: Celebrating Mr. Local Content
BY JONAH OKAH
When President Muhammadu Buhari announced the appointment of Engineer Simbi Kesiye Wabote as the Executive secretary of Nigeria Content Development and Management Board, NCDMB sometime in September 2016, critical stakeholders in the oil and gas industry received the news of his appointment with unusual excitement, given the track record of Engr Wabote and his professional exploits in the industry, while he served at different capacities at Shell Development Company Nigeria Limited, a multi-national oil company.
An accomplished technocrat with degrees in Engineering and corporate governance; his emergence as chief executive of the content board signalled a positive omen for a sector largely dominated by expatriates. With a clear vision in line with the mandate of the agency, Engr Simbi Wabote quickly set the tone of his mission.
One, like a solemn covenant of service, he told whoever that cares to listen, that he would wield the professional will to deepen the local investment and participation of indigenous companies in the oil and gas industry.
Two, that he would uphold international best practice in creating jobs to empower the army of unemployed youths in the country.
These are very cardinal goals critical to the realisation of Nigeria’s dream of a prosperous economy through a purposeful management local content.
Living truly to his vision, within the first two years Engr Wabote took over the manangement of NCDMB, alias “LOCAL CONTENT”, he dedicated his time and energy to ensure the engagement and patronage of indigenous companies, solely owned by Nigerians in the execution of major life transforming projects in the country which were exclusive preserve of expatriates.
One good instance is his pioneering role in inspiring and building of a local vessel of Total’s Egina Floating Production Storage and Offloading, FPSO. This vessel is capable of producing 200,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd).
This singular ingenuity created over 3,000 jobs within one year he took over the mantle of leadership of the content board. It translated into lifting thousands of Nigerians out of poverty. Definitely, this singular achievement is in line with the policy mission of the Buhari administration in the area of empowerment, wealth creation and poverty reduction.
Apart from providing access to intervention fund to encourage the growth and development of indigenous operators in the oil and gas business; The Wabote led management of the NCDMB has changed the narrative of the Modular Refinery concept from mere political-talk show to concrete reality.
An example to point at is NCDMB’s strategic equity investment in Azikiel Modular Refinery, an indigenous company located in Bayelsa State with a capacity of 12,000 barrels per day. While that of waltersmith Modular Refinery located in Imo State has a capacity of 5,000 barrels per day.
The good news about these strategic initiatives is that it has taken thousands of restive Niger Delta agitating youths off the streets with meaningful engagements, thereby contributing to the relative peace in the oil and gas producing communities for the growth and development of the nation’s economy.
Another key initiative that will translate to economic catalyst is the idea of Oil and Gas Park Scheme. This is essentially part of the drive to promote domestic manufacturing of spare parts, tools and equipment critical to the growth and development of oil and gas in the country and the nation’s quest for local content as against the earlier taste and preference for expatriates.
This is in addition to the training of thousands of unemployed youths some of whom are graduates and have been gainfully employed within and outside the country. These are practical initiatives which has translated to increased human capacity development, gross domestic product, GDP and enhanced security for stakeholders in the oil and gas industry.
The Oil and Gas Park Scheme have been launched to that effect and fully on stream in Cross River State and Bayelsa State. Meanwhile, plans have been concluded by management of NCDMB to construct 25 mega watts(MW) independent power plant, IPP, in partnership with the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, with the aim of providing functional and steady electricity power supply to the oil and gas parks.
Also worthy of mention is the brilliant and intellectual conscious initiative in instituting a $50 million dollar intervention fund to promote research and development, R&D as a tool to enhance growth and development in the oil and gas sector for the overall development of the country.
Moreover, the completion of the 17 storey high rise building for the secretariat and headquarters of the NCDMB under the close supervision of Engineer Simbi Wabote will remain a key achievement in the history of the board, just to mention but a few.
Like war heroes who fought gallantly in defence of their country and decorated with gallands and laurels, Engineer Simbi Wabote was stunned in 2018 when several national and international awards began to trickle in, in honour of his service to Nigeria, Africa and the society in general.
Of course, Wabote is a General in human resources management for sustainable development. To this end, 2018 will remain evergreen in the history of NCDMB as well as in the heart of Engr Wabote. The plethora of awards ranging from professionals in the oil and gas to the academy, did not come as a surprise to those who have kept a tab on his meritorious career progression and service to the nation.
One of these awards conferred on him came from the Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria, OGTAN. There is nothing more prestigious as when one is being celebrated and recognised by an industry you belong, typically of a prophet being recognised and honoured by his people.
Engr. Simbi Wabote also made the list for the maiden edition of JURIS LAW OFFICE Award. The award ceremony held in Abuja attracted accomplished Nigerians, a convergence of people from different walks of life, cutting across the judiciary, legislature, executive, as well as stakeholders in the oil and gas sector, with the presence of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, His Lordship, Alfa Belgore who presided over the award ceremony.
Hon Justice Belgore told the audience at the award ceremony in very clear terms that, the award being conferred on Engr. Simbi Wabote is giving to only “people who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of rule of law, oil and gas and general economic growth and development in Nigeria”, describing, Engr. Wabote led NCDMB as “the most outstanding Federal Agency”.
In same year 2018, Engr Wabote became a toast of the global community when Africa Oil Week, AOW, during its 25th anniversary held in Cape Town, South Africa, conferred on him the global award of excellence for his purposeful driven leadership in corporate governance and his unprecedented contribution to local content development in Nigeria and across Africa’s Oil and Gas industry.
As a matter of fact, the award ceremony made Nigeria proud and tall at the epoc making ceremony, particularly with the choice of Nigeria’s Engr. Wabote, which was the first of its kind in the 25 years history of Africa Oil Week, AOW.
Again, back home in Port Harcourt, Capital of Rivers State, specifically on November 22, 2018, the academy was not left out, as the university of Port Harcourt stood still, when the Institute of petroleum studies, IPS, conducted an induction of Engr Simbi Wabote as Fellow of the Institute at a colourful ceremony in his honour, on his outstanding, strategic contributions to corporate governance and his phenomenal achievements in the implementation of local content in Nigeria.
According to an Oil and Gas expert, Engineer Oluwole Adeyemi; “I have monitored closely the transformational leadership activities of Engr. Simbi Wabote led Local Content Board in the past over three years. He is an enigma, disciplined, nationalistic and detribalised Nigerian, who is in a hurry to achieve 80 percent local content agenda by his full blast regulatory approach and opening of new opportunities for the benefit of Nigerians”.
These are shining testimony, pointing to the fact that when the success story of the Buhari administration will be told, it cannot be complete without reference to the contributions of Engr. Wabote led management of the NCDMB.
There is no denying the fact that, Engr Simbi Kesiye Wabote has visibly placed Nigeria’s local expertise and professionals in the competing world map of business in Oil and Gas; Thereby, curtailing capital flight and enhanced foreign reserve by the singular initiatives at reducing the stereo-typed reliance on expatriates.
What the time demands is for President Muhammadu Buhari is to display his fine spirit of reward by reappointing Engr Simbi Keyise Wabote for another tenure. This is the only way Mr President, known for his values of selfless service can be remembered for making a reward system as a critical component of the much talked about moral rebirth.
Jonah Okah, a legal practitioner and public affairs strategist wrote in that piece from Yenegoa, Bayelsa State.