The leadership of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has described as untrue, the alleged pressures being mounted on the Board by some stakeholders of the oil and gas industry to relocate its headquarters from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

The rumour, which was contained in some national dailies and online news platforms is coming on the heels of sustained protests by some Bayelsan youths who claimed to be having misunderstanding with the Board concerning training.

A statement signed by the General Manager Corporate Communication/Zonal Coordinator, Engr. Ginah O. Ginah of the NCDMB, the Board noted that there had been unwarranted and disruptive protests and disturbances at the 17-Storey Nigerian Content Tower, the Board’s head office. The Board said “the management of NCDMB recognises that individuals and groups have the right to express their feelings and genuine grievances in civil and responsible manners.

“The issue do not constitute sufficient grounds to contemplate or yield to any call to relocate the Headquarters of the Board, considering that the people of the Niger Delta region have consistently demanded for oil producing companies to relocate their headquarters to the region.

“The position of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act establishing our agency is clear and unambiguous about where our head office should be. The Board will abide by the express stipulations of the Act.

“The Board, therefore, distances itself from any call or purported call for relocation.
“Stakeholder are therefore reassured that the Board will do everything lawful and expedient within its powers to engender healthy relationship with our host communities and work progressively to ensure that the avoidable spate of disturbances are brought under control.”

Meanwhile, the Bayelsa state government has accused the leadership of the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM) of extorting N7,000 each from about 1,000 Bayelsan youths under the pretence of presenting them to the NCDMB for training.

The revelation came from the Commissioner for Mineral resources, Dr. Ebieri Jones while speaking to Orient daily on telephone.

According to the Commissioner, the protesters at the Nigerian Content Tower in Yenagoa were allegedly instigated by the leadership of HOSTCOM, having extorted monies from them and trying to use the protest to justify their actions.

The Commissioner further alleged that some of the protesting youths confided in him that they paid up to N7,000 each to register with HOSTCOM for the would-be training.

Dr. Ebieri also complained that the action of the youths, if not nipped in the bud, could jeopardize the plan by some American investors to come and invest in Bayelsa state soon. He described the sustained protest by the youths as unreasonable, insensitive and not in best interest of the state.

The commissioner noted that though individuals and groups of persons have right to protest, such aggrieved persons should understand that where their right ends is , where others right begins.
He revealed that the Nigerian Content Tower does not belong to NCDMB alone, noting that other companies and agencies of government also share apartments there.

He hinted that, for instance, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) occupies four floors in the 17-Story building, pointing out that if protesters shutdown the NCDMB’s headquarters other establishments would be affected and their activities disrupted as long as such protests last.

Ebieri lamented that the activities of the protesters have grounded many activities in the state, noting that market women using that route to the popular Swali Ultra Modern market and other business groups for their daily bread had been subjected to harrowing experiences.

In the same vein, the commissioner noted that the incessant protests at the NCDMB’s office could scuttle plans by the international oil companies to relocate their offices to Bayelsa and the Niger Delta region.

Such protests, according to him, are inimical to the state in view of the fact that they place Bayelsa in a bad light as an unfriendly state.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the HOSTCOM has denied the allegation linking it to sales of forms for NCDMB’s youth training to the tune of N7,000 per youth.

Chairman of the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM) Bayelsa State chapter, HRH Boma Kerekebunah denied the allegation in a statement issue to Orient daily in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.

The Atakparamor-Otumor VII, Paramount Ruler of Asitubu Community, Gbanraun Clan in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State said such allegation had been made against HOSTCOM to the NCDMB but was proven to be untrue.

On why HOSTCOM had been protesting, he claimed that it was based on an agreement reached with HOSTCOM to train 1,000 youths but the NCDMB allegedly failed to comply with the agreement.

The HOSTCOM Chairman argued that such trainings had taken place in other states such as Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Cross-Rivers and other states across the country, adding that the group won’t accept the training of 100, out of 1,000 names submitted to the NCDMB.

By Kenechukwu Obiajuru, Yenagoa

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