Press Statement By Igho Derek
The leadership of Transparency in Petroleum Exploration and Development Initiative (TIPEDI) has decided to wade into the serial blackmailing of Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote at every election circle in Bayelsa State.
As an organisation with a good corporate conscience we find it hard to sit idle and watch innocent people’s reputation that have been built over many years of hard work and self discipline, being rubbished on the alter of political expediency.
We believe that those who want to stand for elective offices must be ready and willing to canvass votes based on what they have to offer the people and not seek to distract the people through the introduction of extraneous issues that have nothing to do with with the welfare of the electorate.
We say this because it has become the favourite pastime of certain individuals in Bayelsa State to pick on the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) under the leadership of Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote as their scapegoat whenever an election looms in the State.
Records show that in the recent past, it was the Presidential, National and State Assemblies and later Governorship elections that provided the platform for the vilification of Engr. Wabote and NCDMB. Now with the possible rerun elections to fill vacant Senatorial seats in the Bayelsa State, the fairytale merchants are back at work with the same old strategy.
However, what alarmed us us this time around is the viciousness of the attack which surpasses previous ones, though using same storyline.
Their story this time around is that the Honourable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva is blackmailing the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote to release the sum of $20m to help fund the APC in the rerun Senatorial elections in Bayelsa Central and West Zones. They further add that the cash is also to help Chief Timi Alaibe with legal bills in his effort to unseat Gov. Douye Diri at the Supreme Court.
Perhaps, to make their tale sound believable, the talebearers- “Pointblanknews” an online platform took the extra trouble to manufacture imaginary quotes purportedly from a close friend of Engr. Wabote, referencing a fictitious conversation about monies that were allegedly collected from others by the Hon. Minister of State, Petroleum Resources.
We of Transparency In Petroleum Exploration and Development Initiative, believe that from the nature, pattern and timing of this frivolous, irresponsible, fake and wicked allegation it is fairly easy to know what source it is coming from. Moreso, as records show that this is neither the 1st, 2nd or even 3rd time such an allegation is made against Engr. Simbi Wabote by these people.
However, from the depth and range of other issues brought into this latest allegation, it is easily discernible that those making the allegations not only seek to whip up negative public opinion against the Hon. Minister of State and his party, the All Progressives Congress APC but are also seeking to cause disharmony and bad blood between the duo of Chief Timipre Sylva and Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote. This we vigorously abhor. Both personalities are assets to the Oil and Gas industry, Bayelsa State, the Niger Delta region and indeed Nigeria.
We are however, comforted by the fact that any discerning person will quickly realise the sheer impossibility of the allegation ever being a reality. How on earth can a huge sum such as $20m be sourced from a Government agency such as the NCDMB? Pray, under what project will the money be sourced and is there even such money to be fleeced from the Board in the first place?
Besides, we know of a fact that the kind of stringent corporate governance structure that has been put in place at the NCDMB by Engr. Wabote since assuming leadership of the Board makes it totally impossible for any such money to be taken out of the Board’s coffers without due process.
When people are consumed by an unbridled desire to undo others, they tend to conveniently ignore even manifestly obvious facts such as that all accounts of Ministries, Departments and Agencies are domiciled with the Central Bank, under the TSA arrangement. Therefore, it will be fairly easy to trace such huge disbursements.
We in TIPEDI consider it a shame that out of desperation to win political contests, some people who otherwise ought to be reasonable have taken flight of reality and resorted to serially making allegations that simply beggars belief!
Bayelsa people and indeed Nigerians certainly know better than to believe such asinine nonsense as is being spewed out by people that seem to be afraid of and intimidated by personalities such as the Hon. Minister, Chief Timipre Sylva and Engr. Wabote, as well as jealous of the cordial and mutually respectful and understanding working relationship that exist between Sylva and Wabote.
We make bold to state clearly for the records and the avoidance of doubts that Engr. Simbi Wabote never told anybody either in real life or dreamworld that Hon. Minister of State Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva has at any time (now or in the past) demanded or mandated him as Executive Secretary of NCDMB to raise any sum of money, either in Naira or US Dollars for the purpose of sponsoring any election either in Bayelsa State or elsewhere.
TIPEDI believes that as Chairman of the NCDMB Board, Chief Sylva knows better than anyone else the state of financial affairs and governance structure of the Board. And as an experienced administrator, he can only insiste only on practices and respect for due process and all extant financial rules and regulations as well as the public procurement processes.
It is therefore germane to add that this strategy of dragging Engr. Simbi’s name into every election in Bayelsa will never work no matter how often it is peddled and therefore must be stopped. Politicians need to focus on how best to improve the lives of those they seek to work for and not to be spinning imaginary stories of Engr. Wabote and millions of dollars that never exist, everytime they’re faced with an election.
*Derek is Executive Director Operations, TIPEDI.
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