- Category: GENERAL
- Published on Monday, 27 August 2012 08:21
- Written by Chudi Offodile
President Goodluck Jonathan [GCFR] is billed to “commission” the SABmiller brewery in Onitsha on the 30th of august, 2012. The President will be in Anambra on the same day to inaugurate the oil production from Anambra basin, the first oil production from an inland basin in Nigeria by Orient petroleum and refinery plc, an indigenous
It will be great to have the President in Anambra state to validate the tireless efforts of the board and management of Orient with Engineer Nnaemeka Nwawka as Managing Director and Chief Emeka Anyaoku as Chairman. Securing OPL 915 and 916, two blocks within the Anambra inland basin for Orient, was a major development that set the company on the path of success during the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2002.
If there was any debt that the former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, and Dr Alex Ekwueme [vice chairman of the board] owed Anambra people, they have successfully paid back. The tenacity of the management led by Nnaemeka Nwawka, Sonny Okoye and Iyke Akuezumba, all engineers and former staff of Shell, will be a story for another day.
The President need not go to Onitsha to commission the SABmiller brewery. It would amount to an endorsement of a sordid affair and may embolden other foreigners who design and put into effect, different and newer corruption techniques with government officials. In the history of corruption in Nigeria, the Onitsha brewery scandal will rank as the most brazen.
When I first raised the issue a few months ago, apart from a rain of insults I received from government agents, the Attorney General, Peter Afuba, directed me to the corporate affairs commission to obtain information about the company. But a search at the corporate affairs commission did not yield any information on SABmiller brewery, Onitsha, which is the name the state government repeatedly called the company. The government itself refused to release any information on the ownership of the company except to say that Anambra state invested 2 billion naira for a 10% stake in the SABmiller brewery with “other businessmen”.
The identity of the so called ‘other businessmen’ remained a closely guarded secret until I stumbled upon a company, in the records of the corporate affairs commission, called INTAFACT BEVERAGES LIMITED with registration no 680933, incorporated by the firm of Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie. The company has British and South African directors with a nominal share capital of 40,000,000 Naira divided into 400 ordinary shares of 100,000 Naira each.
The interpretation clause of the memorandum and articles of association of the company defines ‘state’ as Anambra state government and ‘next’ as Next international limited of Nado House, 98 modebe avenue, Onitsha. The position of Chairman is to be occupied by a Nigerian. The Obi of Onitsha is on the shortlist for the position.
300 of the 400 ordinary shares worth 30,000,000 were allotted to the following shareholders as at April 2011: Sabmiller Nigeria holdings—230 ordinary shares, Anambra state government—40 ordinary shares and Next International Nigeria Limited—30 ordinary shares. Intafact Beverages Limited is the owner of the brewery in Onitsha. Keep in mind, the fact that Next international limited one of the three shareholders of Intafact Beverages Limited is owned by Anambra state Governor, Peter Obi and his family. It turns out, that the mysterious ‘other businessmen’ is no other than the Governor himself. Alas, the gods are naked!
Part of the land on which the brewery stands in bridgehead, Onitsha, belongs to a company called International Steel Industry Limited, Onitsha. The land was allocated to the company in 1975 by the defunct East Central State government. The company had developed the over 7 acre property and paid ground rent on the property up until 2011. Indeed, the certificate of occupancy was recertified by Governor Obi on the 5th of March, 2010. Yet, Obi went ahead and revoked the right of occupancy of International Steel Co and awarded same to Intafact Beverages Limited, a private company in which he has interest.
The land was revoked for “overriding public interest” and re awarded to a private company for “overriding personal interest”. It is illegal to revoke a parcel of land for overriding public interest and grant the same parcel to a private company. It becomes immoral and symptomatic of greed, avarice and a capricious abuse of state power, when the beneficiary of the revocation is the Governor himself.
SABmiller, based in South Africa is said to be the biggest brewery group in the world. Its investment in Nigeria is speculated to be more than a 100 million us dollars. A good deal for Nigeria and Anambra state no doubt. But it appears that in an attempt to expand its operations in Africa, it has gotten itself entangled in a web of corruption and unethical conduct.
Governor Obi personally handled all negotiations between Anambra state government and Sabmiller group and visited South Africa several times on the subject. Did Sabmiller allocate the shares in Intafact Beverages Limited to Next international limited as “bribe” to further its business interest in Nigeria?
What did Governor Peter Obi have in mind when he invested 2 billion naira of Anambra state money in a company he has direct interest? What other assets of Anambra state did he contribute on behalf of the state to further his own business interest? Did Next international [Obi’s company] pay for the shares allotted to it in ‘cash or kind’ and how was the payment, if any, effected? What does Governor Peter Obi understand by the oath he swore to, on assumption of office; “that I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions”.
To address these questions and more, an international enquiry into the activities of Sabmiller group in Nigeria and the operations of Next International limited and the possible interface of its accounts with that of Anambra state government should commence without further delay. To this end, I shall be forwarding a letter to Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice, the British government, the government of South Africa and the United States Department of Justice demanding for this investigation.
With the investigation that is sure to come, it will not be advisable for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to be the one ‘commissioning’ the controversial brewery. They may drag the name of the President into their sleazy deal with a claim that the arrangement was approved by the President.
Orient Petroleum on the contrary, was set up in a most transparent manner as a private company in 2001. The stake of the Anambra State government in the company is about 3%. It is an indigenous company in almost every sense and proudly so. Its office is in Awka, Anambra State with the board and the management populated by eminent citizens of the state. The rig used in the production process belongs to Casmir Maduafokwa from Anambra State. The storage vessels moored on the banks of Anambra river, into which the crude flows, enabled by a 10 kilometer flow line, belongs to Cletus Ibeto, a category [A] investor in the Orient project who is also from Anambra state.
The ingenuity of our people is on full display. This is despite the antics of a noisy state government seeking to take credit for the efforts and achievements of a private company, that had to construct a 25 kilometre road with its lean resources to enable about 40 trailers navigate the huge rig to the wellhead in Anambra River 1.
I welcome President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan [GCFR] to Anambra state, to inaugurate the first oil production from an inland basin in Nigeria by Orient Petroleum and Refinery Company plc. While in Anambra state, Mr President should avoid the controversial precincts of the drunken brewery giant, SABmiller.