Oil and Gas Industry watchdog, Transparency In Petroleum Exploration And Development Initiative (TIPEDI), has reacted to allegations that Minister of State Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote, collected bribes to help some companies get the $12billion Bonny NLNG Train 7 contract.
An online news outlet, Pointblanknews, had reported that Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva allegedly collected $25 million in kickbacks to influence the choice of Saipem, an Italian company in the contract.
It also reported that the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Local Content Board, Engr. Simbi Wabote, allegedly collected $2 million from Kelvion, a German equipment manufacturing company.
“Wabote allegedly gave a waiver to the German company to export its equipment into Nigeria for the bonny LNG train 7 project against the Nigeria local content policy and against protests from Nigeria local equipment manufacturers,” the outlet reported.
But the NCDMB denied the allegations, describing them as “spurious and libellous”.
The board clarified that the NCDMB is a regulator and does not award contracts in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
“Our involvement in the award process is limited to evaluation of local content requirements in tenders, upon which NCDMB communicates to operators and/or project promoters the outcome of bidders’ compliance or otherwise with the provisions of the NOGICD Act. Due consideration and the decision to award a contract to any of the compliant bidders rest with the operator and their partners/ project promoters,” it said.
Also responding to the allegations, TIPEDI, in a lengthy statement by its Director of Operations, Igho Derek Emuobome, slammed Ude and his news platform for attempting to “destroy” the “Niger Delta region’s leading lights in public service”.
The group accused the news publisher of being sponsored by “some faceless people and organizations”.
While commending the NCDMB for coming out to debunk the Pointblanknews report, TIPEDI also called on the affected public and private sector officials to not ignore “the antics of Jackson Ude and those egging him on but rather seek all lawful means of getting redress.”
“It has become obvious to our group that there is a well coordinated effort by some individuals and entities to derail some of the key developmental projects of the Petroleum Resources Ministry, ostensibly to embarrass the Hon. Minister of State, Dr Timipre Sylva and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development And Monitoring Board, Engr. Simbi Wabote, whose Board is a parastatal under the Petroleum Resources Ministry,” the statement read.
“We say this because in a period of less than 9 months we have on two occasions, had cause to categorically condemn the activities of one Jackson Ude and his online platform, Pointblanknews for being agents of some faceless people and organizations that are bent on destroying some of the Niger Delta region’s leading lights in public service, through spurious, ill-motivated and baseless allegations.
“As an Oil and Gas Industry watchdog, we find it difficult to sit idle and watch while well intentioned and transparently midwifed projects such as the NLNG Train 7 and others are being destroyed by individuals and groups that are clearly propelled by sinister motives.
“Being obsessed with the effort at destroying the Hon. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Timipre Sylva at all cost and with him, Engr. Simbi Wabote, the Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, Jackson Ude and his sponsors no longer have any regard for the truth or even basic tenets of journalism which obligates a reporter to seek both sides of a story before rushing to publish.
“We can understand that people/groups that lose out in the process of pursuing their business interest in a patently lucrative venture like the NLNG Train 7 project would be unhappy. But that is no excuse for embarking on a campaign of calumny, defamation of character and publication of spurious allegations that impinge on other people’s hard earned reputations and professional integrity.
“Only in June of last year, Jackson Ude and his online platform, falsely accused the same individuals, Dr Timipre Sylva and Engr. Simbi K. Wabote, of illegal disbursement of $20 million dollar. But unable to make that stick, as no such money existed anywhere to be illegally spent by the duo, Jackson Ude and his cowardly sponsors have been bidding their time and waiting for another opportunity to strike.
“Ordinarily, the successful completion of the NLNG Train 7 transaction ought to be a source of pride and celebration for all lovers of the Niger Delta region and indeed Nigeria but instead, detractors and losers are now using it as a basis to launch a destructive campaign against the Honourable Minister and the NCDMB Boss as if just performing the duties of their various offices in itself is a crime.
“As a former legislator, experienced public servant and administrator now with global standing in Oil and Gas industry, as well as being a businessman of many years standing, Chief Timipre Sylva clearly knows what is right and wrong in Government service. Likewise Engr. Simbi Wabote who is nationally and internationally acclaimed for his professionalism, transparency and selfless service to our dear nation.
“It is therefore, disheartening to think that because of political expediency, unrealized business expectations and primordial considerations, individuals and groups would recruit a character like Jackson Ude whose stock in trade is to serially blackmail and malign innocent people of means and public standing with a view to fleecing them of cash and other favours.
“This can be verified from his various brushes with the law: Jackson Ude of Pointblank News: The Face of A Blackmailer – Politics – Nigeria (nairaland.com) Shocking! Pointblank News Publisher Arrested For Bribery – Crime – Nigeria (nairaland.com).
“Any discerning person that reads Jackson Ude’s vexatious write up on the NLNG Train 7 transaction will immediately realise that it is all about some business expectations that may not have realised with Saipem.
“Otherwise, why pick on Saipem and their Local Content focal person and totally ignore the other partner Daewoo? Or was the deal to grease the palms of the Minister and the E.S. applicable to Saipem alone?
“TIPEDI as an organization with independent information and data collection mechanisms know those politicians, companies and Community leaders who are orchestrating this wholly imaginary saga.
“However, our displeasure is the false and totally unjustified negative public image that this hatchet job will create in the minds of unsuspecting members of the public who may not know the Hon. Minister, Dr Timipre Sylva and Executive Secretary, Engr. Simbi Wabote very well.
“While we commend the NCDMB management for coming out swiftly to categorically put a lie to the fake and malicious allegations of Jackson Ude and his discredited Pointblanknews platform, we also call on the affected public and private sector officials to not ignore the antics of Jackson Ude and those egging him on but rather seek all lawful means of getting redress.
“Just because he hides away in the USA while hauling lies and unfounded allegations against innocent people, Jackson Ude thinks he cannot be located and made to account for all his misdeeds, but no matter where he is in the USA, the long arm of the law will definitely catch up with him.”