Akpoti Warns NCDMB Against Hoarding $400m Funding for Nigerians

Lawmaker representing Kogi Central and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Local Content, Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan has charged Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to make funding opportunities accessible to ordinary Nigerians while uncovering $400m intervention funds domiciled in some financial institutions for couple of years.

Out of the intervention funds uncovered, $50m was budgeted for capacity building in oil and gas ($30m) and women in oil and gas businesses ($20m), respectively.

Another $50m of Local content development fund available for Research and Development in oil and gas industries was also domiciled in Central Bank of Nigeria.

These funds, according to her, will attract oil and gas equipment manufacturers to NOGaPS facilities, as well as increase access to affordable finance by the manufacturing entities, adding that the board should explain to Nigerians who are not aware of the availability of the fund how they can access it.

The Local Content Chairman during her interactive session with management of NCDMB on Wednesday, specifically lamented that while Chevron apart from crude oil exploration in Saudi Arabia, also manufactures Polypropylene (one of the waste products from Gas) to produce Syringe which fetches Saudi Arabia $6billion annually.

She further blamed the collapse of Jubilee Syringe Plant in Bayelsa on the lacuna in the operational model of the International Oil companies.

As part of its oversight functions, the committee mandated the management to submit the audited account of NCDMB from 2021 to 2022, the budgetary performances of 2022 and 2023, and the nominal roll of the Board.

In his remarks, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr Felix Ogbo revealed that 300 million dollars meant for Nigeria Content Intervention Fund is still domiciled in Bank of Industry.

According to the board, the entire 300 million dollars has been disbursed. The board added that the total amount disbursed so far amounts to 330 million dollars, explaining that as beneficiaries pay, the money would be given to others who want to borrow.

The management added that five companies out of the seventy companies that accessed the fund have fully repaid the loan and it has been efficient and successful.

The management disclosed that the only challenge was during COVID-19 when there was a global economic shutdown and the board interacted with the BoI managing the fund, to give the companies palliative of two years moratorium to enable companies recover from the effect of the pandemic.

“Bank of Industry carries out quarterly monitoring to ensure the companies use the loan for the purpose it was meant for. We also carry out joint annual project monitoring with the Bank of Industry,” Ogbo said.

Senator Natasha, however, noted that the oil and gas sector cannot work in isolation of other sectors, calling for synergy amongst them.

She tasked the management of the board to interact with the international oil companies operating in Nigeria on how to establish manufacturing companies in the country through the use of byproduct of gas like polypropylene for the manufacturing of syringe, protective wares and other products instead of making Nigeria just extracting hub.

“I am glad that quite a number of various committee chairmen were here, and everyone is all passionate and committed on the same goal to grow Nigeria, to grow capacity in product and services that will support not only the oil and gas but in turn other critical sectors that will be stimulated.

”We cannot just allow the oil companies to turn Nigeria into just an extractive zone as far as exploration of crude oil is concerned but a manufacturing one as well with attendant economic value.

”This committee shall therefore summon the affected oil companies to appear before it on how what are available in Saudi Arabia, USA etc, can be replicated in Nigeria,“ she said.

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