Saturday, 24 February 2018

NEWS AND STORIES

This is the story of Paddy Adenuga, a young Nigerian and son of Dr Mike Adenuga, Globacom boss, on how at the age of 29, he tried to acquire one of the biggest oil companies in the world, Chevron Netherlands. Read the story below.

 

“A LION IN THE NORTH SEA: THE BATTLE FOR CHEVRON NETHERLANDS.”

It was October 2013, two years had passed since I had left the family business in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to London, England to start my own oil trading company. My time in the family business, as a director in the telecoms division and upstream oil & gas company was challenging to say the least but engaging and ultimately rewarding. However, I have never felt comfortable with sitting back and getting a golden pass through life. Whilst the easy thing to do was to be a “good boy and good son” and enjoy all the luxuries of being in a family business – I decided that striking it out on my own once again was the best course of action.

I’ve always loved the oil & gas business, like many other Nigerians. However, what I love about the business, particularly the exploration and production (upstream) side, was the mixture of strategy, operational capability, technical know-how, politics and business acumen which all had to be married with a gambling spirit and sheer luck to be successful. In my decision to move to London, I decided I would only be in the oil & gas business as long as it didn’t pose a direct conflict to the family’s interests. There is striking it out on your own and then there is just being plain foolish. Luckily for me, I had stopped being foolish by then.

The modus operandi of my oil trading business was simple. I kept an office in Lagos with a small team of five to run operations and logistics. I converted one of the bedrooms in my townhouse in London into a study. My team in Lagos under my guidance would get oil trading contracts and I, sitting in London, would either market these contracts to the global oil trading houses to execute in Nigeria on a joint venture (JV) basis or in some instances, I would find the capital to execute the contract from end to end. This formula proved effective and it was good enough to pay my bills and afford me an above modest lifestyle.

One of the traits I took from my parents is that I am highly ambitious and find it hard to sit still. There always has to be a new conquest, a new mountain to climb, or, as is the case most times, a new business to go after. Oil trading was my day job but was never exciting to me except for when I got paid. After days and weeks in London plotting my next move, I came up with an idea and a plan. In the world of upstream oil & gas, especially in Africa, companies that were operators, actively producing oil & gas in commercial quantities that wanted to invest or participate in the oil business were the darlings of the industry. They were like the prettiest girl in high school and every guy wanted her to come to the prom with him.

Most of the oil producing nations in sub-Saharan Africa such as Nigeria, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea would always require any investor into oil & gas assets in their country to either be an oil & gas operator with production on stream or be partnered with an operator, deemed a “technical partner”. This logic makes sense. If you are going to buy prized national assets, you should have the know how to develop and operate them or at least be partnered with an entity that does. I decided that I was going to use a Trojan Horse strategy. I had read ancient Greek literature when I’d attended military academy in Texas and it served as inspiration. I would acquire an oil & gas operating company in Europe (the Trojan Horse), where the political barriers and costs to entry in comparison to Africa would be significantly lower. I would then use this newly acquired company, which would now be of Afro-European in heritage, to become a technical partner to many local and international investors in the upstream oil & gas business in Africa. This company would be the first of its kind and likely the most sought-after oil & gas company on the African continent because of its unique DNA and ownership. After thinking of this idea, I took myself out to a bar a few blocks from my house and ordered myself a nice strong drink. I felt like a genius.

I registered a new upstream oil & gas investment company offshore and called it, The Catalan Corporation. The name didn’t really have a meaning, it just sounded nice and had a confident, stately demeanour to it. To keep costs at a minimum, I decided to put together an advisory board that consisted of Vance Querio, the COO of Addax Petroleum at the time and an industry professional and my mentor (who will remain nameless for good reason), one of Africa’s biggest business giants. Vance was all too happy to join and signed on quickly. I called my mentor and before signing on, he wanted a face to face meeting for me to explain my plan and ambitions for Catalan. He asked me to meet him in the early spring of 2014 at a health spa in a small Swiss village outside of Zurich. I have to admit the drive from Zurich to this little village tucked within the Swiss mountains still remains one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. The spring sun had begun to melt the snow on the mountains and in the distance; you could see the melting snow turn into giant waterfalls pouring off the mountains. It was like an oil painting come to life.

I eventually met with my mentor and after explaining my idea to him and that him being on my advisory board would not only give my burgeoning company credibility but help us raise cash, he agreed in totality and went further to tell me that I should tell anyone and everyone that he was not only on board but was going to give our company his full support. We drank some tea together and the next morning I was off back to London. My little plan for Africa oil & gas was coming together, finally put into action by two African men in a Swiss village. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

On the plane flying back to London from Zurich, even though I had just gotten my mentor on board, I felt that there was someone missing. A few years prior I was the spearhead of my family’s acquisition drive for OML 30 (this is another whole story in itself), one of Shell Nigeria’s most lucrative oil blocks that was up for sale, I met a brilliant English banker named Edgar. Edgar had more than 30 years of oil & gas operations and finance experience. He was respected by the industry on a global basis and having him on board would be the final piece in the puzzle, the icing on the cake. I called Edgar immediately I landed and asked if we could meet for lunch, my treat as always.

I pitched Catalan to Edgar and how if we pulled this off it would be the grandest of coups. Edgar was highly intrigued but stated that he wanted hard cash upfront from the onset. Whilst the others were all too eager to come on board and make their money via sweat equity or cash incentives when we had a target company in our sights, Edgar wanted to be paid money and a substantial amount before putting pen to paper. I was confused by his behaviour. I told him who the others were that were on Catalan’s advisory board but he wasn’t having it, either he would be paid his princely sum to attach his name to Catalan or no deal. I was 29 at the time and was still head-strong and prideful. How could this guy develop such an attitude? I thought we were friends. I suppose Edgar knew his value and wasn’t going to mortgage it on a promise of monies at a later date. As much as he liked my Trojan Horse idea, he just happened to like money more. I balked at his request in annoyance. I paid for lunch, told him no way, and stormed off home. This was a big mistake on my part that would rear its ugly head later.

I appointed two of my most trusted confidants as directors in Catalan and with that the company was set to go. I designed the logo for Catalan – a coat of arms with a cross in the middle. I am after all a devout Catholic and a strong believer in God, so why not have my faith represented on my company logo? I then called my friend Nicolas Lavrov, a web and graphics designer and over the course of a week we put together a sleek and polished company profile which me, my directors and advisory board began emailing out to interested parties. A few weeks later, I got an email from Richard Kent of Jeffries. Jeffries are an investment bank that work closely with multi-national oil companies (the majors) on the acquisition or divestment of oil & gas assets on a worldwide basis. Richard had gotten a copy of my company profile and wanted to have a meeting. I wore one of my finest suits and hopped into a taxi to his offices in London City.

Richard and I talked extensively about my background and my ambitions for Catalan. I explained to him the type of company we were looking to acquire, ideally an oil & gas company in Europe, preferably operating out of the North Sea with a strong daily production and enough reserves to warrant further investment in development. I also told Richard how much we would be ready to spend for the first acquisition – between USD 50 million and USD 100 million. We would finance our acquisition via reserve based lending and would likely raise cash equity of thirty percent of our purchase price with a Bank raising debt of seventy percent to help the balance of the purchase price. I had described the “goldilocks” company Catalan needed to acquire. With that said, Richard told me to give him some time to find the best deal for Catalan.

A few weeks later Richard called me, “I have the perfect deal for you Paddy!” US oil giant, Chevron, had decided to sell their entire upstream, exploration and production business in the Netherlands and had appointed Jeffries to manage a bid process for the sale of Chevron Netherlands. The sale included their production platforms in the North Sea off the Dutch coast, their office buildings, around a thousand or so native Dutch staff, and their crude and gas pipeline evacuation infrastructure. Even the Chevron coffee and tea mugs were part of the sale. Richard was right, this deal was perfect and the ideal Trojan Horse with which to enter the Africa oil & gas terrain with from Europe. He informed me that this would be a competitive bid against other companies to acquire Chevron but thought that Catalan and I stood a good chance. I told him I was interested and that he should send all the necessary paperwork over. Something within me believed I was going to win this bid and with that in mind I was going to throw everything at it. If I won this bid, I thought, there would be stories written about me for a long time to come.

Chevron are by nature, prudently selective with which companies they invite to bid. So the fact that Catalan was chosen was a big deal to me. I felt like for once in my 29 years, I wasn’t being judged solely by my last name but for my skill, merits and ability. I got the first bits of information from Chevron on their Netherlands assets and I began putting together a team of hired hands to act as my management team for Catalan’s bid. I appointed Dutch law firm DeBrauw as my lawyers, Canadian firm Canaccord Genuity as my finance managers, RPS Energy as my technical managers, and Moore Stephens as my accountants. I informed Chevron of my management team and they asked for a few weeks to open the data room and kick off the bid.

Whilst Catalan and its hired management team waited on Chevron, I decided to be pro-active. From previous my experience with OML 30, not engaging government regulators enough could prove to be unwise. I decided that I needed to meet with the government body in the Netherlands responsible for managing their oil & gas affairs. After all I was a young Nigerian man, trying to buy prized, national Dutch assets. I, more than anyone, needed to be ten steps ahead at any given time. My lawyers put me in touch with Jan-Dirk Bokhoven, the managing director at the time of the Dutch state-owned oil company, EBN. Jan-Dirk and I spoke on the phone and agreed a date to meet at EBN’s head office in Utrecht, a one-hour drive or so outside of Amsterdam.

I had never been to the Netherlands before. I took the first flight from London to Amsterdam and arrived a little after 7am. The hotel sent a car to pick me and on my ride into Amsterdam the most fascinating thing I saw was that the Dutch rode bicycles everywhere. When parents take their kids to school, they pop them onto the back of a bike and ride on. I had never seen an entire city on bicycles. It was like something out of the twilight zone. A few hours later I changed and drove to Utrecht on a warm and sunny morning. The ride to Utrecht was stunning. The skies were a picturesque baby blue and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. On either side of the motorway there were golden fields of farm land and further beyond, wind turbines spun in synchronicity. The view was so special to me that I asked the driver to stop on the side of the motorway so that I could get out and appreciate the scenery for fifteen minutes or so. The driver thought I was odd.

I finally met Jan-Dirk at his offices with his head of operations, Thijs. I could see in both their faces, looks of confusion and reverence at the same time. How could a 29-year-old Nigerian have found himself in a position to buy Chevron’s business in the Netherlands? I told Jan-Dirk and Thijs of my intentions and that I took this bid seriously and wanted to make sure that I did everything right in the eyes of not only Chevron but the Dutch government. They both assured me that I was on the right track and that if there was any issue, they would let me know. I spent a few more days in Amsterdam, met up with a few friends, and enjoyed the Dutch nightlife and hospitality. I flew back to London.

Chevron finally opened the data room for the bid and provided all information needed for all companies to put in a bid. I put my team, my directors, and Vance Querio on the task of reviewing all the documents with a request that we have a bid review meeting in a few weeks. Tarica Mpinga of Canaccord Genuity served as the lead of the management team. Tarica called me that the team was ready to present their findings and proposal on the way forward. I went over to Canaccord’s offices and for once saw my team assembled in front of me. Here I was, in my late twenties, in a massive boardroom, with a management team of fifteen people presenting to me. I felt like I had arrived.

While acquiring Chevron Netherlands was mostly for an Africa oil & gas play, Catalan had to deal with the reality of the company’s books, resources, and liabilities. Chevron Netherlands by production was attractive, producing 9000 boepd broken down into 8000 barrels of gas per day and 1000 barrels of crude. The off-shore production facilities were top class, the gas reserves were attractive with ample room for development to increase production numbers, the management team of Chevron Netherlands were the best the industry could employ, and the crude and gas evacuation infrastructure and sales contracts were solid. The Catalan management team presented me the bad news. The oil reserves were seen as weak and having very little production life even if new wells were drilled. The biggest problem however was the abandonment liability which had been projected at first glance to be in the USD 300 million region. This became the thorn in the flesh of entire bid process. Essentially the Dutch government required all operators to restore their areas of operation back to how nature intended – which meant all infrastructure had to be removed at the end of production. The cost of this is what is termed “abandonment liability” or “abandex”. Catalan’s management team felt that because the abandex was so high, it negated an aggressive bid price and moreover Catalan would struggle to raise cash to pay for Chevron Netherlands.

Unperturbed, I corralled my management team on a road show. We would meet with as many Banks, investors, and oil trading companies as possible to pitch Catalan’s bid and Africa strategy for Chevron Netherlands. The team and I spent countless hours in meeting after meeting but to no avail. The abandex amount and weak oil reserves of Chevron Netherlands were too significant that it blinded people from the Africa strategy entirely. Alas it was clear that this would have to be a cash deal with no bank debt or oil trading dollars. Despondent, I called my mentor for a way forward. We spoke extensively and as I expected, he was the only one that saw how important Chevron Netherlands would be as a technical partner-operator in Africa. We agreed that between myself as a small cash contributor, himself, and a few other investors we could raise cash of USD 50 million as a maximum bid price. That night I went back to that bar not far from my house and ordered an even stronger drink. This bid could not slip away from me.

Chevron sent an email to Catalan advising when they expected bids to be received. The Catalan team once again huddled in Canaccord’s offices to work on a bid submission document, which would include Catalan’s offer and bid price. We deliberated for hours and the management team insisted that because of the high abandex amount that no cash should be offered. Essentially Catalan would agree to absorb the entire abandex amount and would pay a notional “$1” for the company. This would be a liability absorbing deal, allowing Chevron to clean out and move on. The team advised that Catalan put in this offer but as a way to play hard to get, we would commit to the gas abandex but stay quiet on the oil abandex. I was convinced at that moment that we would have the winning bid. The team prepared all the necessary paperwork, which I signed, and hand delivered to Jeffries offices to the manager of the bid process. After submitting the bid documents, I went to my church, St. Mary’s. I always like going to church when there is absolutely no one there. I prayed for God’s blessings and good graces.

Jeffries and Chevron confirmed they had received Catalan’s bid and would need two weeks or so to review all bids and come back with an answer. In the meantime, I gave a break to my management team and spent all my free time now on my kung fu training with my master, Shifu Heng-Wei. Kung Fu was not only for my fitness but for my well-being and spiritual balance. It was my greatest stress-relief. On a Tuesday afternoon, whilst Shifu and I were in the middle of an intense kung fu session, my phone rang. I knew it was about Chevron. One of Richard Kent’s deputies was on the line. Chevron had reviewed my bid and were “confused” on my position in respect to the oil abandex and wanted a re-submission clarifying Catalan’s position on both oil and gas abandex. I immediately re-convened my management team at the boardroom and began debating our response to Chevron. I saw this as a second chance opportunity from Chevron to submit a more aggressive bid. My management team argued that I should keep the same bid and state now clearly that Catalan wanted nothing to do with the oil abandex. I countered that we needed to be aggressive and should take the entire abandex and offer cash of USD 50 million so that we could acquire Chevron Netherlands uncontested and plough quickly to our Africa strategy.

The Catalan management team thought I was crazy. Surely, I was 29 and now undeniably stupid. How could I look at that enormity of an abandex amount and now want to offer hard-earned cash on top of that? They believed I was frequenting my local bar too often and having one too many drinks. They pleaded with me that I follow their proposal. We argued further and eventually as a compromise, we agreed that we would take all of Chevron Netherlands oil & gas abandex but would still offer a notional $1 bid price. In my heart of hearts, I felt that a cash offer was needed to win but my management team, for which I had paid a respectable amount for their services, had convinced me otherwise. They were professionals I thought and they had my best interest at heart. The team printed out the documents for which I appended my signature and re-submitted. Again, I went to my church, when there wasn’t a soul in sight and prayed to God for his guidance and blessings.

Chevron confirmed that they had received Catalan’s revised bid document and would need another 2 weeks to come back to me on whether we won the bid or not. One night as I stayed up watching CNN at home, I had another idea. If I was able to find out whom the other bidders were for Chevron Netherlands, I could coerce these bidders to drop their respective bids and join me in a new multi-bidder venture. With this, Chevron would have no choice but to sell Chevron Netherlands to Catalan and the other bidders in a new joint venture (JV) company. This was to be my insurance policy in case Catalan’s solo bid failed. As I said, I am the underdog here by a country mile; I always had to be ten steps ahead of everybody else. I arranged a conference call with my management team and charged them to find out who the other bidders were for Chevron Netherlands. I also pulled out my diary and began making phone calls. At this point I didn’t care what the rules were, this was business – either hunt or be hunted and I believed Catalan led by me, was an apex predator, even if Chevron was one trillion times bigger than Catalan. Fortune favours the bold and I fancied this as David versus Goliath.

One by one, Catalan began finding out who the other bidders were. Mercuria, an oil trading company I had done business were in the running but then pulled out. Dana Petroleum looked at the assets but were also out of the running. Tullow Oil was also out of the bid out of the fear of the abandex costs. I scheduled another call with my team and asked everyone to re-double their efforts to find active bidders. The clock was ticking and I was keen to find the other bidders before Chevron replied to my bid. I was too late however, on a Friday afternoon in early summer of 2014, whilst I was out drinking rose wine with friends at the Arts Club in London, I got an email from Chevron. They had rejected Catalan’s bid and had deemed our bid unsuccessful. I felt like sinking into the ground. I hastily said goodbye to my worried friends and ran home. I couldn’t believe it. How could Chevron say no to me? This bid was destined for me to win. I was meant to be the Alexander the Great of Africa oil & gas and barely into my thirties.

All weekend, I re-traced my steps. I called my management team, my directors, my advisory board, and my mentor to understand where we went wrong. Vance Querio told me that it looked like I had fallen in love with Chevron Netherlands and it was time to walk away. I said no way, I was too deep in love and I couldn’t turn back now. I made up my mind that I was going to find the remaining active bidders, coax them into joining me, and leave Chevron with no choice. I called my management team for a meeting on Monday and they were soundly reassured that I was mad. The game was up and here I was, trying to bring back life to Catalan after a deathblow. The show was not over and we were going to be victorious. I left the meeting with a sense of purpose. That night I went on a dinner date and bumped into an older friend of mine, Remi. I had always looked up to Remi. Remi is smart, successful, and highly intelligent. I felt like him and I were very much the same person and that he was me, just twenty or so years down the road. Remi asked me what I was up to with work and why I wasn’t in Lagos running the family business. I coyly changed topics as I didn’t want any Nigerians knowing what I was up to, certainly no one in “high society” or the political elite. Even though Remi was a great guy, I couldn’t take the risk. Chevron Netherlands was my Trojan Horse and it was on a strictly need to know basis. We will get back to Remi later.

The next day I called Jan-Dirk of EBN and told him that I was going to make a USD 50 million re-bid for Chevron Netherlands but this time I wanted to do so with the other bidders as part of a JV. I was going to use all the cash I had agreed with my mentor to go for one final strike. Jan-Dirk at first was unsure that this was possible but when he heard my sense of urgency and willingness to put down cash, he invited me to back to his offices in Utrecht and felt there could be a solution. The next morning, I dashed off to the airport and flew back to Amsterdam. I landed early as I usually do and by this time I had gotten used to the city being on bicycles. I remember pulling up to a red light and seeing twin Dutch toddlers on the back of their mother’s bike waving at me. These Dutch and their bicycles.

I met with Jan-Dirk again and this time he was more forthright and eager to help out. He then dropped a few bombshells on me. First off, EBN, the Dutch state oil company, were an active bidder for Chevron Netherlands and were specifically interested in the oil side. I was shocked. The second bombshell was that they had put in a joint bid with an indigenous Dutch oil & gas producer called Oranje-Nassau Energy (ONE). Thirdly, EBN knew that apart from itself, Catalan and ONE, there was one more active bidder that wasn’t European or African for that matter but had no leads. Jan-Dirk pledged that EBN would join my new JV but that I had to meet the Chairman of ONE, Marcel, to get his buy in. In my presence, Jan-Dirk called Marcel and arranged a lunch meeting in London with Marcel and the managing director of ONE, Alex.

Back in London, I met with Marcel and Alex at a prestigious members club that both Marcel and I were members of. Marcel and I hit it off very well and found that we had a lot of mutual interests in common, more so he knew my mentor and on the strength of that would be happy to enter into a JV with Catalan and EBN. However, Alex, was slightly reticent. Alex, it seemed wasn’t too pleased that I was charming his Chairman right before him and wanted to put the brakes on this budding bromance. If he wasn’t careful this young Nigerian could even end up taking his job if this JV worked out. It then became a battle for control now between Alex and I on the fate of the JV. Alex proposed that the Catalan management team meet EBN and ONE at ONE’s offices in Amsterdam the following week to discuss the structure of this new JV and how we would formally propose to Chevron that we wanted to bid together for Chevron Netherlands. I agreed to this meeting. I would come with full force.

The following week, the Catalan team and I arrived in Amsterdam. I ensured that we arrived in style. I had the hotel arrange for five, brand new, jet-black Mercedes s-classes to ferry the Catalan management team to ONE’s offices. I wanted Marcel and Alex to know that we meant business and this wasn’t a Mickey Mouse affair. Marcel and Alex received us at the entrance of their offices. We certainly made an impression, it looked more like a state delegation had just arrived at ONE’s offices, ready to discuss oil & gas diplomacy.

We were taken up to their main conference room where we were introduced to the rest of ONE’s management team. Our meeting was to discuss two major points. First, if the JV was to be successful, how would we carve out the Chevron Netherlands empire? Secondly, if we were to agree to the first point, how would we approach Chevron and manage the bid process? The meeting became slightly contentious. EBN did not attend the meeting and didn’t need to. They made it clear that they were focused on the oil side of Chevron Netherlands and would only come in for the oil. ONE was also no small fry, they produced 60,000 barrels of crude and gas a day from their assets in the Netherlands and worldwide. They were not only keen on the gas coming from Chevron Netherlands but wanted operational control. This would leave Catalan as a mere financier/investor with no management control.

Tensions were flaring with no headway being made. I looked at Marcel and knew that he and I were both frustrated. I motioned to him for us to meet outside the conference room. Marcel waved to Alex to join us and I asked Tarica to step outside with me. The four of us walked over to Alex’s office for a man-to-man resolution meeting. I made it clear to Marcel and Alex that Catalan’s main objective was to use Chevron Netherlands as an Africa operator and would make our fortune from “selling” our technical know-how to wealthy, local investors in oil-rich producing nations with Angola and Equatorial Guinea as prime targets followed by Nigeria. However, Catalan would need to have management control of Chevron Netherlands as we know potential African partners would want to see the Afro side of an Afro-European oil company in control. Marcel agreed and Tarica re-emphasised my point. Alex however was keen for ONE to be an active player on the gas side as they saw the gas production and potential as the key driver for being involved in the first place. We agreed that Catalan would have management control but would let ONE drive the gas affairs in the JV with EBN doing the same for the oil. The empire had been carved. Lastly, we agreed that we would write a joint letter to Chevron notifying them of our intent to form a JV and permission to submit a joint bid for Chevron Netherlands. The four of us walked back into the main meeting and marshalled out the next steps to our respective teams. Marcel saw me off and we both felt like we were on the verge of something great. I spent a few more days in Amsterdam and revelled in the Dutch nightlife. I even bought a bicycle. On one fine Amsterdam afternoon as I rode my bike through town, I thought to myself, “I am about to be a Nigerian Dutchman”.

When I arrived off the plane from Amsterdam to London, I got a rather unnerving email from Alex of ONE. He was back to that power-playing game of his again which was becoming highly frustrating. Alex had written me stating that before EBN and ONE would agree to write a JV letter to Chevron they needed to see financial statements from Catalan, a substantial amount of money had to be put in an escrow account, and he listed another laundry list of conditions precedent (CP). I was surprised he didn’t ask for my birth certificate and my mother’s driving license. I thought to myself “Na wa o, this Alex bobo really has it out for me.” Alex had done this largely to checkmate me and show that he was the authority on the JV. It was all well and good for his billionaire Chairman, Marcel to say he was okay with it, but it was Alex that was responsible for managing the JV and not some young upstart. On the taxi ride back home, I thought to myself, it would take too long for Catalan to meet all of Alex’s CP’s and in that time Chevron could have announced a winner as I was well aware that there was another bidder still out there that we didn’t know of. Also, Alex was effectively making Catalan bid for ONE’s partnership. He would make Catalan sweat to earn partnership rights with ONE and EBN and then we would sweat further to convince Chevron of our JV. I decided this was a dangerous road to go down and I would not cave into Alex’s demands. If there was anything I excelled at in military academy two decades before, it was in military strategy and tactics. I was going to put all my training and knowledge to teach this Alex fellow a lesson. ONE and EBN were going to sign that letter I told myself. They simply had no choice.

I devised a plan, which I fine-tuned with the other two directors of Catalan. I made sure not to discuss the plan with Catalan’s management team for fear that it could leak out. The Catalan directors agreed that for our plan to be successful, I in particular would have to eat humble pie. I had to reach out to Edgar and I’d also have to pay that princely sum of his. In addition to Edgar, I needed to get French banker, Guillaume Leenhardt on board. Guillaume, I had known since I was 13 years old and I’d come to find out that he was a close friend of Marcel. I met with Edgar for a steak dinner. I swallowed my pride and apologised profusely for our last meeting that didn’t go so well. I told Edgar that I wanted him on my team now on a full-time basis. Edgar knew he was needed now more than ever and cheekily asked for twice the amount he had originally requested for. This was no longer a princely sum but a king’s ransom. I did the math. It was worth it. I called my Bankers and made sure Edgar was paid. That was the first chess move. I called Guillaume and he just happened to be in London. He asked me to meet him in Hyde Park by the serpentine lake. I arrived at the lake and saw Guillaume sitting on a bench, feeding bread to ducks. It was like something out of a spy movie. I briefed Guillaume on the whole Chevron Netherlands saga and he was impressed to say the least, “You’re as ambitious and as crazy as your father… I like it!” With that said Guillaume was on board. More chess moves. My plan for Alex was now set in motion, it was a mixture of “good cop-bad cop” and what Yoruba’s from Nigeria call “Ogbon agba”, loosely translated to “An old man’s wisdom”.

I emailed Alex, copying Marcel and key members of ONE, EBN, and Catalan’s management team. I wrote that Catalan was no longer interested in partnering with ONE and EBN. I reminded them that Catalan was invited to bid by Chevron and Jeffries because of our cash raising ability. Alex’s list of CP’s was a slap in the face to Catalan and had personally offended me and my mentor. In the same email, I instructed the Catalan management team to cease all communication with ONE and EBN. The email was a tsunami. ONE and EBN couldn’t believe that they had just been dumped. Imagine telling the prettiest girl in school that you were planning to take her to the prom, she thought she had you wrapped around her finger, and then in one ninja move, you tell her you are no longer interested. This dejection is what Alex and co. were now feeling. How could ONE and EBN be told to bog off and most of all by this small boy? It put them in a state of cataclysmic shock. Bad cop. I then called Edgar and Guillaume that I had to write such a nuclear bomb of an email because my mentor and investors were unhappy that ONE was trying to shift the goal post. I asked Edgar to reach out to Alex and the ONE management team since he knew them well to speak some sense to them, stating that I wanted to partner with them but that my mentor and investors were the ones holding me back, that they were about to lose out on a fruitful partnership. I then reached out to Guillaume to do the same with Marcel. Good cop. More chess moves. A week went by. The Catalan team, still bewildered, called me to reverse the decision in my email, pleading with me that my stance was suicidal. I refused to budge. Edgar was making progress with Alex. Alex began to feel that this whole mess was now his fault and didn’t want to look bad in front of his organisation and EBN. He caved in and with his contrition, EBN were on board. It was now left for Marcel to give the final green light. Marcel was enjoying a cruise on the Greek seas on his lovely yacht and was a little hard to reach. Guillaume finally reached him. Marcel agreed. Checkmate. Ogbon agba!

I drafted the JV letter to send to Chevron. The reward for my victory. I emailed it out to ONE and EBN. One hour later the letter was sent back to me with their signatures. I signed the letter and then forwarded it via email to Chevron and Jeffries with the Catalan management team in copy. Tarica called me and wondered how I’d pulled off such a coup. I told him they don’t teach such at Harvard Business School, that this was native Nigerian business sense. We both laughed. Chevron on the other hand wasn’t laughing. In the words of Jeffries, “Catalan was taking over the bid process”. Chevron now knew that it wouldn’t be too long before the last bidder was found and coerced into the Catalan-led JV. Chevron is one of the wealthiest companies in the world and also one of the smartest. They made a few chess moves of their own. They decided to stall and told the JV through Jeffries that they needed some time to consider our proposal. They would cleverly use this time to tidy up the bid with the last, final bidder. A week passed by and I knew this was a race against time between Catalan and Chevron. If Catalan found this last bidder the game was up and Chevron would have to cede Chevron Netherlands to the Catalan-led JV. Chevron for their own part, needed to wrap things up with the last bidder because if not, they would have been outfoxed by Catalan and might end up having to sell Chevron Netherlands for a much smaller sale price. Worst still, there was no way they would lose their Dutch empire to me of all people.

I called both Edgar and Guillaume, asking them to use all their contacts and resources to find the last bidder. I arranged a conference call between Catalan, ONE, and EBN with a clear order to find the last bidder and that once we found them, the bid was ours for the taking. During my time in the family business, as a director in the upstream oil & gas business, I had a close working relationship with Chevron Nigeria and knew its managing director. I dug deep into my email and found emails years back between Chevron’s senior management based in Houston and I. I reached out to the Chevron Houston team and went into full salesmanship. The Catalan-led JV was well suited to buy Chevron Netherlands. We were a mix of cash (Catalan), operational experience (ONE), and government-state backing (EBN). There was no better group to sell to. Chevron Houston asked for time to consider. Guillaume had come up with no leads but Edgar had, the kings ransom I paid for his services was showing dividend. Edgar had gotten in touch with Martin Lovegrove, a senior adviser to the global CEO of Chevron. Martin informed Edgar, that the Chevron global deal team sitting at headquarters in California – Chevron San Ramon, were debating what to do. It was becoming an internal debate between Chevron Houston and Chevron San Ramon on whether to conclude with the last bidder or pivot to the Catalan-led JV. I waited on the outcome. My 30th birthday was on June 21, 2014. I had planned a big comic book inspired costume party to ring in my special day but I cancelled all those plans. I felt Chevron Netherlands was slipping away from me and this was not the time to celebrate anything.

On July 14, 2014, I received a letter from Chevron. They had made up their mind. Chevron San Ramon had their way. There was to be no room for the Catalan-led JV and they were concluding the sale of Chevron Netherlands imminently. To say I was devastated wouldn’t capture how low and defeated I felt. Chevron Netherlands was destined to be mine. I was going to ride back into Africa on my Trojan Horse and become King. I had given every part of me, every fibre of my being and it was immeasurably painful to come so close to victory and lose. ONE and EBN wrote to Catalan formally withdrawing their participation in Chevron Netherlands. They had sailed off into the North Sea sunset. I stubbornly refused to give up and wrote another letter to Chevron that Catalan would be prepared to pay up to USD 100 million for Chevron Netherlands. Frankly, I didn’t know where I was going to find the money but I was throwing one last shot out there when in actuality it was no more than medicine after death. A few days after my last pitch letter, Richard Kent sent me an email; Chevron Netherlands had been sold to Petrogas of Oman. The last bidder, the mystery company I couldn’t find. I’d later come to find out that USD 50 million plus an absorption of all the abandex was the winning formula for the bid – the same formula that I had proposed to my management team but they had pushed back on. This was a painful lesson to always trust my instincts, no matter the circumstance. Edgar later told me that if I had brought him on from day one, the first question he would have asked me was, “What amount are you willing to pay for Chevron Netherlands, given what you wanted to use it for in Africa?” I told Edgar that the price I would have paid was USD 50 million. I should have paid Edgar his princely sum the first-time round, never again would I let ego or pride cloud my judgement.

Members of the Chevron team in London called me. They congratulated me on a well-fought bid and marvelled at my ability to push them so hard in their own bid process. Richard Kent of Jeffries took me out for a drink. He told me I was the type of bidder he liked working with, tenacious and aggressive. Richard wanted to know if I was interested in another bid, something was coming up in Italy. I told Richard I was done. I looked finished. I said goodbye to the Catalan team and paid their fees. Tarica took me out for a meal, trying to encourage me. We joked about how legendary this bid was and how I had brought back Catalan’s quest to life on multiple occasions when all seemed lost. This was all consolation. I thought, no one remembers the 1st runner up, second place is just not first place. My mentor called me and told not me not to be hard on myself, that this was all a learning process and that it would shape me for further battles in the future. I agreed with him but nothing could make up for my loss.

Whilst I lay in bed that night, one of my closest confidants nicknamed Heisenberg and a director in Catalan called me. I remember our conversation like it was yesterday. Heisenberg said, “Mr. P, how many people are given the opportunity you had at 29 to buy Chevron Netherlands? How many Nigerians can ever say they were in a competitive bid to buy an oil & gas company in Europe and almost won? How many young men at your age with the same background, simply settle for less? But you went out into the real world and fought hard and fought valiantly. You got one of the largest indigenous Dutch oil companies and the Dutch state-run oil company to partner with you. You might have lost but you won. Take this as a privilege and that God himself is shaping you into a Man and not just any Man.” He was right and I agreed. Heisenberg advised that I head off to the one place that always rejuvenates my soul… Los Angeles. I got up out of bed, walked down into my study, went online and bought a ticket for the next morning’s flight to Los Angeles. I would go away for two months.

I arrived in Los Angeles half a day later. I sat in my apartment for the first two days. I barely ate and just stared into nothing. This was the cathartic process to get over my loss. Then I got into my car and drove to Malibu. There is nothing more peaceful than a scenic drive down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The Pacific Ocean waters out to infinity on your left and there are cliffs, bluffs, and stunning mountains to your right. The California sun in all its warmth shines down and that good Cali fever infects your soul. This was Californication at its finest. I enjoyed my two months in Los Angeles. I partied hard, went to the Drake vs. Lil Wayne concert at the Hollywood Bowl, sat courtside and watched Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers play a good game, ate well and one night dined at BOA steakhouse on Sunset – at the table in front of me was an orange haired business man named Donald Trump, if only I had a crystal ball then. I went to Disneyworld and had a blast. California had healed me. I was okay again. I thanked God not only for the opportunity and the experience but also for blessing me with a good life. He had taught me some valuable lessons and helped me discover new parts of myself I didn’t know existed. Heisenberg was right, I was becoming a Man in the true sense of the word.

A year later, I moved back to Lagos for a few months to be closer to my family and to take a break from work. A South African company, HKLM that had helped my father design the logo for his telecoms company were in Lagos doing some further design work for my father. My father always uses a bull as his personal insignia and it had become synonymous with him. Gary Harwood of HKLM asked me if I wanted my father’s bull insignia adorned on any clothing or stationery. I told Gary that I wasn’t a bull and that my father was “the bull”. Gary countered and said, “Well Paddy if you are not a bull, then what are you?” I paused for a moment, thinking. My mother was born on August 2nd, 1950; she is a Leo by star sign. Leo’s are lions and I was my mother’s lion son, her Simba. I told Gary, “I am a Lion. I always have been and always will be.” Two weeks later Gary sent me a design of my own personal insignia, it was a Lion’s head. We made a few tweaks to make the Lion look more intimidating yet regal and Gary sent me the final design. In a very clever and touching way, Gary and his team had woven some of my facial features into the design of the Lion’s face. This Lion no matter who might see it or who might copy it would have me staring right back at them. I thanked him for a wonderful present.

I called Remi and told him that I was back in Lagos. He invited me over to his palatial and modern home. He liked my Lion’s head insignia that I had stitched onto the pocket of my native Nigerian kaftan. We sat down for hours and talked business and politics. Then Remi asked me what was I doing in London all that time, away from the family business. I was happy to tell him about Chevron Netherlands at this point, the deal was done and over. Remi looked at me in astonishment, “You mean you took on a whole Chevron, with no noise, no fanfare and none of us knew? Ahh bros you try!” We laughed it off. Remi then revealed the biggest bombshell of my Chevron Netherlands adventure. The managing director of Petrogas of Oman was a close friend of his and he knew he was bidding for Chevron Netherlands at the time. If I had told him what I was up to when we saw in London, whilst I was searching for the last bidder, he would have introduced us. I was blown away. There it was that whole time. That mystery last bidder that I had searched so hard for was there for my taking and it passed right by me.

I went back home that night and made myself the strongest drink. History couldn’t tell this story. I would have to.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018 01:38

Dignitaries rise for Ekwueme in Abuja, Enugu

Many dignitaries were at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja yesterday to honour the Second Republic Vice President Alex Ekwueme.

A Parade of honour, led by the police, was held at the Presidential Wing of the airport for the deceased, who  died in London on November 19, 2017

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said Ekwueme was committed to selfless service to the nation, West Africa region, Africa and the world.

Ekwueme, he noted, had timeless ideals of integrity, loyalty and kindness to all.

He was optimistic that the vision and sacrifice of the late Ekwueme for the nation will not be in vain.

Osinbajo said “As we receive the body of the first elected Vice President of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme (GCON), this morning, we are reminded of his selfless service to nation, to our region, to Africa and indeed the world.

“We are reminded of his commitment of the timeless ideals of integrity, of loyalty and kindness to all.

“We thank the almighty God for giving us 85 glorious years of Dr. Alex Ekwueme.

“When he was asked what his vision was for the county, he said, ‘I will want to see Nigeria be a nation not just a country.’

“Those words tell us how committed he was to the unity of this country and I pray that in death and as we remember him, that this will not only encourage us but also cement the relationship between all of the people and nationalities of this country, so that we become and remain one.

“We thank the almighty God for his family and for all of us who he left behind and we pray that his great wishes for this nation and all that he sacrificed for will not be in vain.” he said

Among those present at the event are the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of the Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

Others are Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke, representative of Former President, Shehu Shagari, Hon. Aminu Shagari, Senator Andy Uba who represents Ekwueme’s constituency in the Senate.

Also present were members of the Federal Executive Council including the Ministers of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige.

Others Ministers are Education, Adamu Adamu, Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.

Also present were representatives of Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, and Inspector General of Police, Corp Marshal Federal Road Safety Corps, Boboyi Oyeyemi, representatives of Civil Defence, Customs as well as other paramilitary services.

The ceremony, which began at 12:19, included inspection of the parade by Vice President, Osinbajo, movement of the corpse in by pall bearers (Ebony) at 12:26, handing and taking over of corpse by body of Commissioners of Police at 20:30, guard of honour on the corpse 20:31 (rendition of the National Anthem), Vice President Osinbajo and family representative, Pastor Goodheart Ekwueme, joining the parade train and escorting the corpse to Enugu bound plane at 12:39.

Others dignitaries present included,  Former Chief of General Staff Ebitu Okiwe, former governor of Anambra Peter Obi, former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Ebele Okeke, FCT Commissioner of Police, Sadiq Bello, AIG Federal Operations, Tayo Lekan, Permanent secretaries serving retired, heads of government agencies.

The case between actress Dorcas Shola Fapson and Taxify driver, Udeh Henry Nnaemeka might not come to an end soon. With accusations of assault and attempted rape on her, Nnaemeka has now taken the actress to court on charges of false accusation.

A lawsuit signed by Nnaemeka’s lawyer; Uchenna Obi of Chancellor Chambers, states that Dorcas was accused of maliciously branding him a “rapist” and “kidnapper” thereby causing damage to his person and reputation.

He has since demanded for N5Million from Dorcas Shola Fapson for damages to his person.

 
 
Sunday, 28 January 2018 19:06

Buhari, Obasanjo meet in Addis Ababa

President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo met briefly on Sunday, a few days after Obasanjo asked the President not to re-contest in 2019.

The two leaders met at  the opening session of the 30th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On sighting Buhari at the venue, Obasanjo who ruled Nigeria as a democratically elected President between 1999 and 2007 approached the President and shook hands with him.

The two leaders exchanged pleasantries and engaged each other in a short discussion that lasted about two minutes. While the discussion was going on, a former military Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.), joined them.

The three of them thereafter posed for photographs. Both Buhari and Obasanjo are also retired generals.

Obasanjo had in a widely publicised press statement last week gave a damning verdict on the administration led by Buhari.

The former President while urging Buhari not to seek re-election also ruled out both the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party.

Obasanjo made a case for what is now known as “Third Force.” It is not certain that the issue of the press statement could have come up considering the brief nature of the leaders’ interaction.

Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, the daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo has backed her father letter to President Muhammadu Buhari advising him not to re-contest in 2019.

Former President Obasanjo had last week written a letter to President Buhari outlining the failure of his government and its inaction in the face of killings perpetrated by rampaging Fulani herdsmen, especially in Benue among others.

The former Senator in a statement criticised supporters of President Buhari for republishing an open letter directed to her father in 2013.

She expressed surprise over the publication, accusing them of resorting to “cheap tactics” by focusing on unconnected issues instead of heeding the advice and admonishment of one of the most brilliant leaders to ever emerge in modern Africa. 

“To say that Nigeria has problems is to make an understatement.

“The wise should listen, wherever help and advice come from. Those who republished the old letter should have spent time to respond to the content of the said statement which, among other things, called on President Buhari to join the rank of retired elder statesmen in 2019.

“I would think this was appropriate and even unnecessary advice, given the serious medical problems he has had over the last few years.

“I have had no connection with his administration or to the previous one after I left the Senate in 2011, and to try and use me and my name as some excuse is shameful.

“I agree with the contents of the open letter and like all people that wish Africa well, hope that Nigeria someday comes out of its death spiral to become a leading nation in the world.

“It is tiring to continue to be part of the Nigerian conversation when there is no positive impact to it.

“I really do not want to be part of it, as I have found over and over again that speech and words are wasted on people who have no understanding of the responsibility on us as black people on this planet.”

• Asks Him To Apologise To Nigerians For ‘Dancing On The Victims’ Graves’

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has said it is unfortunate that President Muhammadu Buhari is being surrounded by a set of people that could not give him quality advice or proffer solution to the security challenges facing the country.

Ortom, in an interview with journalists yesterday, against the backdrop of comments credited to the Minister of Defence, Gen. Mansur Dan Ali, that the killings in Benue State by Fulani herdsmen were as a result of the law prohibiting open grazing, said it was an “insult to the collective leadership and sensibility” of the people of Benue and Nigeria for a minister of Defence to ask Nigerians to accommodate foreigners who illegally enter the country to cause problems.

He, therefore, demanded an unreserved apology from the minister, stating: “This is provoking. It means the minister is dancing on the grave of innocent people who were murdered, slaughtered by these terrorists in the state on January 1. “I am convinced to say that the people surrounding Buhari are the wrong set of people.“How can a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come out to encourage our citizens to do an illegal thing by telling them to accommodate such people.

“As a state, we are ready to accommodate those who are genuine and who come to our state legally, whether foreigners or not, to do business. But if you are in Benue, you must respect the laws of the land,” the governor retorted.Ortom wondered how most of the President’s aides, instead of focusing on their responsibility of protecting lives, are busy bringing issues to divert attention from killings by herdsmen across the country.

He said it was becoming clear in Nigeria today that immunity that was supposed to be the prerogative of the President and state Governors has now been extended to “killer herdsmen” and even “cattle,” making them untouchable, adding: “Cattle in Nigeria now have more immunity than humans. This is very unfortunate.”

Ortom lamented that both civilians and security men were being murdered with reckless abandon, but instead of finding solutions to the problem, the federal government is busy playing politics with it.     

“If terrorists that are hired by the herdsmen have gone beyond killing our people to killing security men, it is very sad.“The other day, it was three policemen in Logo. Yesterday, they killed another policeman in Guma. Another one was declared missing, while one was also shot by the herdsmen and is receiving treatment.

“This is a monster that has the capability of consuming the entire country. But the truth is that if security men are becoming victims, we are no longer safe. “I think that is what the minister of Defence should be concerned about, because they are making me believed that he is also part of the conspiracy against Benue State.”

The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, on Thursday described the blockage of grazing routes across the country as the remote cause of recent killings especially in Benue and Taraba states.

He also identified the implementation of anti-grazing law in some states as the immediate cause of the killings.

Dan-Ali spoke with State House correspondents at the end of a meeting of the National Security Council presided over by President Muhamamdu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said the recent killings formed part of discussions at the meeting and the proposed National Commission on Proliferation of Arms was one of the steps being taken by the Federal Government to tackle the violence.

The minister said, “Whatever crisis that happens at any time, there are remote and immediate causes.  Look at this issue (killings in Benue and Taraba), what is the remote cause of this farmers’ crisis? Since the nation’s independence, we know there used to be a route whereby the cattle rearers take because they are all over the nation.

“If you go to Bayelsa or Ogun, you will see them. If those routes are blocked, what do you expect will happen?  These people are Nigerians. It is just like one going to block the shoreline, does that make sense to you? These are the remote causes of the crisis. But the immediate cause is the grazing law.

“These people are Nigerians and we must learn to live together with one another. Communities and other people must learn how to accept foreigners within their enclave. Finish!”

Asked if he was justifying the killings because of the blockage of the routes, the minister said, “I have told you that the remote cause is part of the grazing law. Since independence, there are clear routes where these people pass.

“On the issue of arms, they are all over. In those killings you are talking about, there are also militias that did the killings. Some people were caught with arms and they call themselves Forest Guards or whatever with AK47.

“There is nowhere in this country where arms are allowed to be carried apart from legitimate security forces.

“So, anybody carrying any arm is doing so illegally. Militias were caught in the same land doing the same killings, so the killings are not done by any particular group, it is a communal issue.”

Asked which one should Nigerians believe between his position and the government’s earlier position that the killings were done by foreign terrorists, Dan-Ali said, “Of course, that is why I said they are militias. Militias are part of illegal immigrants. They are the people.”

The minister said the meeting also featured discussion on the stringent conditions imposed by the United States government for the sale of 12 Super Tucano A29 planes and other weapons worth $495m to Nigeria.

He said while the US government insisted that the payment must be made by February 20, it also maintained that the aircraft could only be available in 2020.

Apart from that, he said the US government had also stopped Nigerian personnel from being sent to understudy the production process of the aircraft as Nigeria did in the case of other countries.

The minister said the council had approved that the Ministry of Defence met with the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, to iron out the contentious issues.

He said, “The contract include cost which is $494m to acquire the Super Tucano A29 plans as well as training, where the facilities will be accommodated and continuous servicing among others.

“Some of the stringent measures include that we will start having them from 2020, which is two years from now. They are also thinking of not allowing our technicians to be part of the production inspection.

“But this is what we normally do in all the defence contracts: we send our personnel to go and understudy especially when it comes to specialised aircraft like in Russia, our personnel are permanently based where the production is being done for this MI35 helicopters.”

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke yesterday said she acted on the instructions of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in directing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to release $1.3billion to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

She said it was not within the power or discretion of any minister to question or disregard the written directive of a president.

The ex-minister made the clarifications through a statement by her Media Adviser, Mr. Clem Aguiyi, against the backdrop of the ongoing probe of the withdrawal of $1.3billion from the accounts of NNPC to fight kidnapping and other security threats in the Niger Delta.

Although about $1.4billion was requested by the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) via three memos, for “Intervention for Urgent National Security Projects”, about $1.3billion was released from NNPC’s accounts.

But it was unclear what became of the $100million balance as at press time.

ONSA requested for $1.4billion between March 27, 2014 and May 5, 2014 when approval was given and cash-backed.

Three memos were sent to Dr. Jonathan on March 27, 2014, 31st March 2014 and May 5, 2014.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke stressed that she could not be held liable for carrying out a presidential directive.

The statement said: “The attention of Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the former Minister of Petroleum, has been drawn to a story in The Nation Newspaper of Monday 22nd January, 2018 as well as other print and online media titled “Diezani in trouble again over withdrawal of $1.3b from NNPC accounts”.

“Under Section 5 of the Constitution, all executive powers are vested in the President who may exercise it directly or through the Vice President or Ministers of the Federation. As Minister for Petroleum Resources Mrs. Alison-Madueke was an appointee and delegate of the President.

“Consequently, the Minister of Petroleum Resources acted on the basis of the written approvals and directives given by the President, which approvals were given after written requests from the relevant security agencies were made to the President.

“At such instances, as in fact the article clearly shows, a Service Chief or Intelligence Chief makes a written request/appeal to Mr. President, outlining whatever urgent and critical security needs of the nation they consider imminently paramount, at any given point in time.

“If such a request received the approval of the President, the President may direct that the requested funds be drawn from a Security Budget maintained by NNPC, or that the funds be sourced from elsewhere.

“Where the President directs the Minister of Petroleum Resources, in writing, to make the payment from the NNPC, the Minister, in turn, directs the GMD NNPC in writing to execute the directive of the President. NNPC then wires the funds from one of its major foreign bank accounts, or from the CBN, directly to the stipulated account of the particular branch of the armed services, or intelligence unit, or department, that initiated the request.

“It is not within the power or discretion of any serving minister to question or disregard the written directive of a president including that of the incumbent President”

The former Minister stated that at no time, did she, or could she, as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, interfere with this process.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke said since the disbursement of $1.3billion was traceable, it was wrong to assume that it was diverted.

“It is, therefore, impossible and implausible, for any monies under such presidential directives to be diverted during the process, at least from the standpoint of the minister.

“Any and all amounts approved and directed by Mr. President to be paid, were executed exclusively by NNPC, directly from NNPC’s foreign and or, Central Bank of Nigeria accounts, to the stated recipients.

“Therefore, let it be very clear, that all funds disbursed by these banking institutions on behalf of NNPC are easily and openly traceable, and the process cannot and should not be utilised for the distortion of facts,” the statement said.

 

Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Commerce and Industry, Deji Tinubu has slumped and died.

Tinubu was said to be playing football with other members of the State Executive Council after the end of the second day of the ongoing Retreat for Permanent Secretaries, directors and executives members late Thursday in Epe when he slumped and died.

Government sources said he suddenly shouted during the football match and then slumped and died.

The death of Tinubu has thrown the entire Governor Akinwumi Ambode’s cabinet and the entire state government into mourning.

Tinubu was the Chairman, Lagos Sports Commission and Special Adviser to the Governor on Sports. He was later made the Special Adviser on Sports alone after the sports commission chairman was given to another person by Ambode.

At the recent Cabinet reshuffle by Ambode, he was redeployed to Commerce and Industry as Special Adviser before his death.

Tinubu was also the Director General, Lagos Sports Commission during the former Governor Babatunde Fashola’s tenure.

Nollywood actress, Dorcas Shola Fapson (DSF), popular for her role on “MTV Shuga”, has shared a story on social media about how she narrowly escaped being raped by the Taxify driver she used last night.

In the story she said the driver fully locked her in his car, drove to a random house, then tried to drag her into it.

The London raised movie star says her pepper spray which she emptied on his face saved her.

However in a press release today, Taxify says on receiving the disturbing news, they have reached out to the actress and their lawyers have petitioned the State Intelligence Bureau and the Nigerian Police Force to take up the matter since they they have zero tolerance for any and all forms of harassment and violence.

Read the statement below:

 
 
Page 5 of 397

READ AFRICA REPORTERS NEWSPAPER PRINT EDITION

Africa Reporters Television (ARTV)

Newsletter

- Advertisement -



Ads