The last may not have been heard concerning the multi-billion Naira Delta State Secretariat building project currently ongoing in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
Information reaching this medium has it that the project is a conduit pipe by the state governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa to allegedly siphon funds ahead of the 2019 election.
Contrary to the public procurement act, the award of the N13 billion secretariat, this newspaper gathered didn’t follow due process as North China Construction Company was given the contract without competitive bidding.
Further investigation revealed that North China Construction Company is not a foreign firm like the name suggests, but a solely Nigerian owned company by one Osadebey Osakwe, a former Zenith Bank manager who allegedly helped Gov. Okowa with funds during the 2015 election. The contract to him is allegedly a way of the governor paying him back, while Osakwe also helps in sponsoring the forthcoming gubernatorial election in 2019.
This newspaper learnt that Gov. Okowa’s sister, Ivana Shenton is actually the front for the construction company. Competent sources confided in our reporter that she brought the company and allegedly used Osadebey who was already known to the Governor to act as an Engineer whereas, he’s just a banker.
According to an angry source who’s deeply involved in the project: “Since the construction work began, it has been filled with nepotism as all the jobs are awarded and allocated only to Okowa’s relative.”
“The Governor’s elder sister is allegedly in charge of supplying diesel to run the equipment used in the site, Wisdom and Tony Okowa, also relatives of the Gov. Okowa are in charge of supplying granites.”
“It’s a contract of man know man. Go there now and tell them to give you part of the job and they will ask you for a note from the Governor or his relatives. They are circulating the money among themselves, so they can use it to rig in 2019 elections.”
When The Witness tried to confirm the story, neither the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah nor the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu responded to our inquiry as at press time.
Kogi East 2019: Sen Attai Aidoko hires 9 ‘wise men’ in desperate moves to retain his seat
Following the discouraging body languages of majority of the divisional party chairmen whom he appreciated for enhancing the impunity that offered him the contentious senatorial candidacy of the PDP, Aidoko has resorted to constituting a group of nine wise men purportedly to checkmate what he refers to as “distrust and anti-party activities” of some party members.
At a meeting which held in Lokoja and had Timothy Omora, Ndah Paddy, Hon Igagwu, Hon Abdulkarim, Hon Ohiemi, Elder Okwuoche and Hon MM Oseni representing Ankpa, Dekina, Ofu, Bassa, Olamaboro, Ibaji and Igalamela respectively, Aidoko apologized for his dismal performance in the past 16 years. He, however, promised to do better this time around if elected. He professed the benefits of returning as a “ranking senator” with a possibility of becoming the next senate president and the huge benefits accruable to the Igala people therefrom. One of those who attended the meeting and who spoke conditionally laughed the senator off as a “mega joke” whom they only see during election periods adding that “the next election is not about any party but about the entire Igala nation and like Saul in the Bible, God has left him.”
The group of nine wise men was charged with the task of cascadinhg down to the wards and units to drum support for Aidoko with messages along two lines. One, a vote for Atiku and Aidoko and two, push APC out at all cost but through the PDP platform.
Before the Lokoja meeting, Aidoko had held several meetings in Abuja with group after group and person and after person all in a bid to obtain their sympathy and support. Unfortunately, what is said after such meetings implies that his interventions are not making any impact.
Even more, the message Senator Aidoko and his cohorts do not seem to get is that the Igala/Bassa people are saying “our mumu don do” and that political parties are merely a vehicle. Whether or not Aidoko would have his way on this occasion is left to be seen and February 16, 2019 is the date.
Before then, the politically orphaned senator is willing and available to be adopted by just anyone who is willing to listen to his stories.
Sterling Bank leverages Nigeria’s chaotic advantage
Riding out the rapid and unpredictable change associated with the Nigerian market was the focus of senior business leaders led by Abubakar Suleiman, Chief Executive Officer, Sterling Bank Plc, during the second edition of the Sterling Leadership Series (SLS) held in Lagos, last weekend.
A coming together of captains of industry, the thought leadership session had Yaw Nsarkoh, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever Nigeria as guest speaker. Aptly themed “Nigeria: The Chaotic Advantage”, the session was moderated by Yemi Odubiyi, Executive Director, Corporate and Investment Banking, Sterling Plc.
In his welcome address, Suleiman said there is an urgent need for Nigeria to develop institutional role models for younger professionals to emulate in view of the dynamic environment in which they operate.
“When we embarked on this journey as a bank, there were hardly any institutional role models who managers could call upon when they needed to make business decisions. Consequently, we had to set uncommon goals for ourselves to successfully navigate the uncharted waters of the Nigerian economy.”
According to him, the management of Sterling Bank resolved early in the life of the bank to articulate the direction they wanted the bank to follow and took steps to ensure that people could understand and take the vision to the next level.
Speaking on the theme, Nsarkoh listed strategies that business leaders should adopt to deal with the challenges and opportunities of operating in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) environment.
Nsarkoh said the first thing business leaders should do in a VUCA environment is to face the reality of the environment and map out ways to deal with it. According to him, by facing the reality, they will be able to build resilient models that can cope with shocks and thrive in highly volatile circumstances.
He said companies should build organisations that are equipped to interpret the risks surrounding them. They should also design backup plans and possible changes in the short term such as having multiple vendors for a particular service. So, when shocks surface, they can easily move from one supplier to the other or spread their needs among several suppliers.
Nsarkoh said the economic cycle and evaluation criteria of what is right in a volatile business environment must be viewed through a long-term lens and planning cycles should be shorter because things could change every month or every quarter.
He said companies should review, change and review but evaluation of economic benefits must be done with a longer-term horizon in mind.
He explained that in any environment, volatile or not, there is always a cultural conversation within which brands must express themselves. He added that “in times of adversity, people develop a certain sense of humour about things such as poor infrastructure and their implication on services. So, brands seeking to serve people purposefully must immerse themselves in that environment and speak their language.”
Nsarkoh said business leaders must embrace and understand the context of the unpredictable times in which they live, the news culture of the people and the roles that their brands could play in day-to-day conversations within communities.
The CEO said business leaders must be curious and go out of their ways to seek best practices wherever they could find it, remarking that through this quest they will be able to demolish the pervading tendency of people to think they cannot aspire to world-class services and products in their environment.
He also enjoined business leaders to look out for people doing things better than them and benchmark or adopt a talent base that is vital to the survival and growth of the business, empower the frontline sales team and create a multi-stakeholder approach, among others.
Wrapping up the session, Yemi Odubiyi explained that the rate of change is outpacing the ability of economies, businesses, industries and people to adapt. He urged leaders both in the private and public space to adopt newer mental models based on agility, critical thinking, adaptable learning, responsiveness to change and people orientation as against dependence on intuition, belief and values for decision making.
Oil subsidy scam: Femi Otedola exposes Goodluck Jonathan
True words are not defined by the volume of a man’s voice, but by the consequence of his choices. Ask Femi Otedola. The billionaire magnate would never use gilded words to masque deceit neither does he brandish fickle principles and statistics to conclude with a false truth. Unlike many a rabble-rouser, who flashes documents to lock down evidence but never real facts to back their proof, Otedola has revealed the depth of decadence and negligence that aided and abetted corruption in the oil sector during ex-President, Goodluck Jonathan’s regime.
But he to achieve his aim, he did not spin tales out of thin air, neither did he attempt to cut through decency like a butcher’s knife; amid the clamour for better management of the nation’s oil sector, Otedola recently testified before an Abuja High Court Judge, laying the facts bare, about the massive corruption that afflicted the oil sector in the immediate past administration.
He revealed, among other things, how he painstakingly rebuffed overtures by the elements that be to bully and extort him. The Forte Oil boss alleged that he was the one that alerted former president Goodluck Jonathan to the fuel subsidy scam in 2010, even though he was later blackmailed by the house of reps committee that probed the fraud, he was saying the gospel truth, according to esteemed sources privy to the incident.
Otedola, while testifying at the Abuja High Court on Wednesday, as a prosecution witness in the criminal case against Farouk Lawan, who chaired the house probe committee, by the federal government stated that: “In 2010, being the chairman of African Petroleum Ltd and also the CEO of Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd, I realised that companies in Nigeria were claiming money for subsidy on petroleum products they never imported. When I saw how much was being stolen, I went to the then President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. I told him my observations. He told me later that he had consulted with the Minister of Petroleum and that there was nothing of such.
“I then reached out to Senator Bukola Saraki who raised the issue on the floor of the senate and thereafter, the house of reps set up the panel to investigate the allegation. The defendant reached out to me and I gave him the background information as to how the monies were being stolen. I gave relevant information to the ad hoc committee. I have two companies which are in the oil and gas industry which are AP and Zenon oil.”
Otedola, who owns Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd and Forte Oil (formerly called AP), told the court that when he informed Jonathan that many companies were collecting subsidy payments without importing any product, the president did not believe him.
The billionaire magnate alleged that the two companies had something to do with the defendant’s panel. “AP submitted to the committee documents regarding all the importations of the company. Mr Otaru, general manager AP, had direct contact with the defendant’s committee…On 18th of April, 2012, the defendant came to see me at my house in Abuja after the report of the committee had been laid before the house of reps in plenary.
“He told me that pursuant to what we discussed on phone while I was in the UK, he told me that he was going to indict Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd. He demanded for the sum of $3m USD to exonerate Zenon Oil. I said to him that why will he indict a company that does not import petrol but diesel. He said most of the companies indicted have paid bribe. I told him this is extortion.
“I was in Nigeria when the report was laid before the house of reps. I saw it on the television, NTA on the 18th of April 2012 and I saw that my company was listed as one of the companies involved in subsidy scam. I wrote a petition to the DG DSS to complain. When the report was laid, I was shocked and I had several calls from my international partners and my bankers.”
Otedola disclosed, that, it was after his petition to the DSS that a sting operation was set up against Lawan.
“After my petition to the DG DSS, I received a call from the DSS official, one Mr Caleb ,who told me that they were going to carry out a sting operation. He told me that I would be provided with serialised USD to give to the defendant and they were going to install video recording gadgets in my living and dining rooms. About six operatives of the DSS did the installation.
“I was given 620,000 USD serialised dollars. After the report was laid on the floor of the House of Reps, the defendant called me that if I made $3million USD available, he would exonerate my company. I said to him that this is unfair to a country that has lost about the sum of N1trn to subsidy scam. I took the instruction of the DSS and I agreed to play along,” he said.
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