By Nnanke Harry Willie
It has been a transformative era for Nigeria’s oil and gas industry as Simbi Kesiye Wabote’s stewardship of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has ushered in a new chapter marked by unprecedented successes and achievements as set out in the board’s enabling act.
One of the outstanding accomplishments under Wabote’s leadership is the notable surge in Nigerian participation across the value-chain in various industry projects. The NCDMB, spearheaded by Wabote, has successfully elevated the percentage of indigenous content, fostering a homegrown presence in a sector traditionally dominated by international players.
In a recent media chat, Wabote,revealed that the country’s indigenous oil firms control 60 per cent of the domestic gas supply from zero participation in the past decade.
He said, “We are proud that we have moved from near zero participation in the oil and gas sector to the point that our indigenous operators such as SEPLAT, AITEO, EROTON, and others are now responsible for 15 per cent of our oil production and 60% of our domestic gas supply.
Overall, Nigeria crossed 54% mark in local content across the Oil and Gas value-chain in December 2020 and has been growing geometrically under the quality leadership of the NCDMB.
Providing Leadership to Nigerian businesses
Appointed as the Executive Secretary on the 29th of September 2016, Wabote has repeatedly assured stakeholders that NCDMB serves as an enabler of business, emphasizing that the agency’s regulatory decisions are always taken from a pragmatic point of view. For Wabote, this means, leading local players by the hand when necessary.
Wabote is on record to have continually encouraged oil and gas companies to approach NCDMB regularly for discussions, even when they have challenges with complying with the NOGICD Act. He has assured that “when you hold quarterly meetings with the key teams of the Board, we will support and guide you and there will not be any hitches.”
Wabote’s strategic vision has not only attracted significant investments but has also nurtured collaborations that have fortified the local industry. This has translated into tangible economic empowerment, job creation, and an overall revitalization of the nation’s oil and gas landscape.
Wabote, however, credits his team with the real reason behind the success of NCDMB. He says “the bulk of the heavy lifting is usually done by my colleagues while my responsibility is to give them the leadership and the support needed to succeed”.
“Little wonder we were ranked No. 1 on the ease of doing business amongst other MDAs by the presidency. We also received the president’s recognition award last year and also for the first half of 2023”, he says..
Major Highlight of Tenure
A key highlight of Wabote’s tenure is the establishment of the Nigerian Content Development Fund, a financial lifeline for local companies involved in critical oil and gas projects. This initiative has not only provided essential support but has also paved the way for indigenous entities to thrive in a competitive environment.
The NCDMB, under Wabote’s guidance, has gone beyond rhetoric, actively investing in infrastructure and facilities to bolster local content. This commitment has spurred the growth of a resilient and competitive indigenous sector, reducing dependence on external expertise and strengthening Nigeria’s standing in the global energy arena. This would, naturally also be saving the country precious foreign exchange.
The provision of continuous funding for indigenous operators through the N500 billion Intervention which creating over 300, 000 direct and indirect jobs in the country, amongst others is thus achieving its desired goal.
Recognizing the pivotal role of human capital, Wabote has championed comprehensive capacity-building programs. These initiatives have equipped Nigerians with the requisite skills, fostering a skilled workforce that can confidently navigate the complexities of the industry. The ripple effect has been a reduction in the need for foreign expertise, a testament to the success of the NCDMB’s commitment to homegrown talent.
In tandem with this, Wabote’s emphasis on research and development has positioned Nigeria as a hub for innovation in the oil and gas sector. Local technologies and solutions have flourished under his watch, contributing not only to increased efficiency but also showcasing Nigeria’s potential as a technological trailblazer in the industry.
The Industrial Parks
NCDMB has built and equipped a set of oil and gas industrial parks, developed by the board in conjunction with Shell Petroleum Development Company, ExxonMobil and Nigerian Agip Oil Company with particular reference to NOGAPS, Emeyal 1 and NOGAPS, Odukpani). These 2 parks consist of manufacturing shop floors and factories, warehouses, training centres, mini estates, fire stations, truck parking and holding spaces, hostels and administrative blocks.
According to Wabote, “They are intended to eliminate importation of equipment components and spares required in oil industry operations”.
Meanwhile communication technology centres have been built in parts of Ondo State to facilitate digital education and equip youth with appropriate skills for gainful employment and self-development.
Only recently, 500 youths in Oyo state graduated from a special training programme on solar power installation and maintenace. The 6-month programme culminated in the facilitation of business registration cooperatives in and provision of shops in groups for the graduates. It is part of an end-to-end empowerment programme aimed at providing lifelong support to youth.
The board has, thus far trained over 16, 00 skilled and semi-skilled youths across the country.
The Key Programmes
NCDMB has showcased the structured accelerator program and the NCDMB incubation program. The Board has successfully guided incubates to master the art of pitching, understanding market dynamics and customer insights, practicals, and mentorship. The accelerator program also equip participants to navigate the entrepreneurial landscape effectively.
17 incubates were recently showcased. They represented a spectrum of fields in the energy sector and data management, including Renewable Energy, Geological and Geophysical, Local Materials substitution, Health, Safety, & Environmental, and Engineering.. Other areas are Technology Development, Pipeline Monitoring Systems, Artificial Intelligence.
Wabote says that: “These are innovative solutions to everyday problems that we face in the country. Nigerian youths are innovative and creative. They are looking for a platform they can get and NCDMB will be that platform.”
Simbi Kesiye Wabote’s tenure at the helm of the NCDMB has been been quite inspirational as it is laced with triumph after triumph that have reshaped the narrative of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector. The NCDMB, under his dynamic leadership, is surely and sure-footedly successfully propelling the nation towards self-sufficiency, economic growth, and global recognition in an industry critical to Nigeria’s prosperity.
Little wonder, the NCDMB has been approached by several countries across Africa and beyond to come and share its success nuggets and indeed, replicate the NCDMB imprimatur in their fledgling industry, a testament of excellent Wabote leadership of the board.
Bio of Simbi Kesiye Wabote
Prior to his appointment as Exective Secretary of NCDMB, Wabote was an Executive Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Nigeria Limited and the General Manager Business and Government Relations for Shell Companies in Nigeria (SCiN).
Before taking up his role as an Executive Director of Shell, he had served Shell in various senior positions within and outside the country in Engineering, Contracting & Procurement, External Affairs and Community Affairs Directorates. As Head of Civil engineering in Shell Eastern Division, he was responsible for major key civil engineering projects for the company, including the Shell Osubi airport in Warri Delta State Nigeria.
He served as the National Assembly Relations Adviser to Shell and was the General Manager, Local Content Development, of Shell Exploration Production Company in Nigeria (SEPCiN). He was responsible for the development of Royal Dutch Shell’s local content strategy and framework and supervised Shell Local Content implementation across several countries including Nigeria, Gabon, Brunei, Oman, Kazakhstan, Australia, Iraq, Qatar, Jordan, USA and new frontier countries for Shell.
Wabote holds an MSc from Leeds Metropolitan University, Graduate of Civil Engineering from Rivers State University of Science and Technology Port Harcourt and a graduate of INSEAD group leadership programme. He is also a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and a COREN Registered engineer and a member Institute of Civil Engineers London.