Wabote’s N30bn Allegation: A Case Of Corruption Fighting Back -Lokpobiri


By Sunday Etuka, Abuja 

The Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri, has denied ever asking the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to inflate it’s budget to the tune of N30billion, as alleged by its immediate past Executive Secretary, Mr. Simbi Wabote.

Thus, described the allegation as “a clear case of when you fight corruption, corruption will fight back”.

Recall that Lokpobiri while speaking at a dinner organised by the Petroleum Club in Lagos last week accused Wabote of wasting an estimated sum of $500 million on some suspicious projects.

In a swift response, Wobote who described the Minister’s statement as reckless, said: “My problem as the Executive Secretary started with Lokpobiri in December 2023 when he sent one of his undocumented aides within his ministry to my office in Yenagoa (Blackson) requesting me to increase the NCDMB budget by N30bn for the office of the Minister and I said it had never been done before.”

I said to him that the maximum the NCDMB budget has ever got to in the past is N80billion for all our activities, adding N30billion will be too much for his office and I was not going to do it,” he claimed.

However, in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Minister on Media and Communication, Nneamaka Okafor on Tuesday, Mr. Lokpobiri challenged Wabote to provide proof of such conversation if he has, stressing that he who alleges must prove same.

The statement also clarified that the Minister has no aide called Blackson, adding that all his aides were duly selected in line with extant laws and have documents to that effect.

The statement stressed that “the Minister in his capacity as chairman of the Governing Council stands by his statement at The Petroleum Club’s quarterly event in Lagos, and as journalists I welcome you to visit the places mentioned to verify the allegations for yourself”.

The statement disclosed that the said Atlantic Refinery was supposed to be built in Mr Wabote’s home town, he should show Nigerians where that refinery is.

“the Brass refinery was also paid for, you are welcomed to also visit the site to verify the facts for yourself”, the statement said.

It, however , revealed that “investigations are ongoing and the truth will surely come to light and monies belonging to the generality of Nigerians will be recovered for Nigerians.

“Let me add that these revelations are not new, they were first made during an investigative hearing of the House of representative committee on local content. Again the records are there and you are welcome to verify these facts.

“The Minister has never been part of any budgeting process of any parastatal under the Ministry, you are welcomed to visit these agencies to verify for yourself.

“Finally, the Minister’s office is run with a budget superintended by the permanent secretary and so one will wonder, how the Minister will ask another entity to make provisions for the budget of his Office.

“The Minister has an impeccable record from his time as Minister of Agric and will continue to stand for the truth.

“The Minister and Indeed the Chairman of the Governing Council of the NCDMB will not abdicate his responsibility to please anyone.

“He has a responsibility to ensure that, that which belongs to Nigerians is judiciously used for Nigerians

“I have had course to read Mr Wabote’s release and every one can see that he is still nursing the wounds of being replaced even after spending seven years at the Board.

“At best, this is a clear case of when you fight corruption, corruption will fight back”, it said.

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