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Lokpobiri Faulted Over Reversal Of NCDMB Staff Redeployment

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Some stakeholders in the oil and gas industry have expressed reservation over the hard stance of the Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, towards the Executive Secretary, ES, of the Nigeria Content Monitoring Development Board, NCDMB, Felix Ogbe.
Their reactions followed the reversal of the decision of the Executive Secretary, redeploying some staffers of the Board.

The minister, in a letter dated 5th March, 2024, and addressed to the ES, with reference no HMSO/MPR/SSA/005/VOL1/009, said that it had become imperative to emphatically state that the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Act 2010 does not empower the Executive Secretary to redeploy or appoint Management Staff.

Lokpobiri, therefore, said that the Executive Secretary does not have the authority to overturn deployments/redeployments made by him and the chairman, Governing Council of the Board.
The minister went further to say that Section 101 of the Act states that “The Minister shall make regulations generally for the purpose of carrying out or giving effect to the provisions of the Act”.
In the letter, he warned the Executive Secretary not to usurp the powers of the Governing Council on any subject matter.
“In the light of the above, the redeployments announced by the ES to all staff on 4th March, 2024 is hereby overturned. Consequently, all affected staff should remain in their places of assignment as status quo remains.” Lokpobiri directed

He explained that the NCDMB management is answerable to the board led by him (Lokpobiri), and that Ogbe therefore does not have the power to redeploy, appoint or employ management staff.
Lokpobiri had only last week inaugurated the governing council of the organization, according to the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act, with membership drawn from representatives of select institutions connected with the oil and gas industry.
The board is chaired by Lokpobiri, while the executive secretary of NCDMB, Ogbe, serves as the secretary of the council.Other members include the executive vice president, Gas, Power, and New Energy, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Mrs. Oritsemeyiwa Eyesan and the chief executive officer of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, among others.

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Some stakeholders in the industry, including legal professionals, have warned that continuous interference of political office holders in the running of key government agencies had made them lame ducks that cannot act except to take orders from their principals even when they have responsibility to do staff deployment shouldn’t be the prerogative of the board or the minister in that case because the ES is, by virtue of his status, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the agency.

They warned that (with due regard to the provisions of the Act) if the minister succeeds in cowing the ES, then the industry would not take him seriously anymore and would want to refer to the minister for everything.

They said the former ES, Simbi Wabote, succeeded in making significant achievements due to less interference from government, while the executive secretary of NCDMB, Ogbe, serves as the secretary of the council.
Other members include the executive vice president, Gas, Power, and New Energy, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Oritsemeyiwa Eyesan and the chief executive officer of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, among others.

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Some stakeholders in industry including legal professionals warned that continuous interference of political office holders in the running of key government agencies has made them lame ducks that cannot act except to take orders from their principles even when they have responsibility to do so.
Some lawyers said though they don’t have a copy of the Act, but despite the relevant sections the Minister relied upon is one out of many because in the case of the NNPCL the GCEO is empowered to take certain decisions except there is total breach of the Act setting it up.

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They argued that staff deployment shouldn’t be the prerogative of the board or the minister in that case because the ES is by virtue of his status as the chief executive officer CEO of the agency.
They warned that if the minister succeeds in cowing the ES then the industry would not take him seriously anymore and would want to refer to the Minister for anything.
They said the former ES Simbi Wabote succeeded in making significant achievements due to less interference from the executive.



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