NCDMB under Pressure to Relocate Over Incessant Disruptions of Activities – THISDAY Newspapers
By Emmanuel Addeh
The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) located in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, is currently being pressured by its development partners to relocate from the area, following incessant disruptions of its activities by protesters.
It was gathered that there was apprehension among workers and operators who do not feel safe at the 17-storey head office of the local content office and are now considering other options.
In the latest protests, several youths had barricaded the Nigerian Content Tower for three days, shutting down activities at the headquarters of the agency and totally paralysing official duties.
THISDAY learnt that the youths rejected the offer by the board to train 100 youths in critical skills areas in the industry, insisting that the local content office must train1,000 youths from over 850 communities.
The protesting youths erected tents for the number of days they were at the venue, blocking the two-lane access road to the office and stopping guests and staff from gaining entrance and exiting the premises.
The management of the board was said to have met with leaders of the youth groups and explained that its approved budget for the year could only accommodate a given number of host communities’ members.
However, the demonstrators insisted that their demands must be met by the board, claiming that the local content office was toying with an approval that was already secured in 2019. They were also said to have refused to participate in aptitude tests that would be used to select the candidates for the training.
The relocation bid, it was learnt, is being championed by a group of concerned indigenous service companies who are worried about the huge impact of insecurity and frequent disruptions in the operations of the NCDMB.
In addition, the proponents of relocation were said to be latching on to the high cost of Nigeria’s crude oil production at a time that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is leading campaign for production cost to be reduced below $20 per barrel as all costs will be passed to every barrel produced.
The stakeholders expressed worries that the protests and blockade at the board over frivolous reasons had created serious doubts over sustainable operations of the NCDMB in Bayelsa State and the risk of important oil and gas operators being held hostage and harmed by youths of the state.
Managing Director of Standard Chemicals Limited, Mr. Chiejina Andrew, who spoke on the matter, noted that the frequent protests do not make oil and gas companies comfortable visiting the board to transact important businesses.
He explained that the Senate’s order that oil companies should relocate their headquarters to host communities would be jeopardised by the current development, despite infrastructural developments and capacity building programmes in the state.
He said: “We are fed up with incessant protests by Bayelsa host communities and other faceless groups disrupting activities at the headquarters of NCDMB.
“If the host communities’ disruption is sustained resulting in relocation of NCDMB from Bayelsa, what will happen to all the hospitality industry depending on NCDMB visitors to survive?
An employee of one of the oil companies who preferred to remain anonymous said the harassment of protesting host communities at NCDMB was making things difficult for workers and operators.
However, the protesting youths had maintained that there’s a subsisting agreement as to the number of youths to be trained, insisting that the deal must be executed to the letter.