Street Journal’s findings have revealed that some of Nigeria’s top class traditional rulers have vested interests in the oil and gas sector with some of them linked with the ownership of oil blocs. It was also found out that ownership cuts across all the geo-political zones, though the South West seems to have a high percentage.
Most of the monarchs were gathered to have applied for oil blocs through their different companies, being well established businessmen before they became traditional rulers. Findings also revealed that some might have been offered oil blocs as a form of patronage by the Federal Government for their roles in helping to stabilize the country. Some however became proud owners of oil blocs by taking the advantage of having their kinsmen in charge of oil; using that leverage, they applied for oil blocs and licenses to lift crude oil.
After getting approval, Street Journal learnt that some of the royal fathers did an on-the-spot sale of their allocations while a few stayed on and started oil prospecting.
Though there are no laws forbidding traditional rulers from doing legitimate business, many have insinuated that political considerations and some other factors might not be ruled out in the award of the blocs, especially going by the frequency of distribution. Street Journal found out that in 1999, seven blocs were sold while only one was sold in year 2000. Nine were sold in 2001 and the same figure in 2002 while only seven were sold the following year. The figure rose to 34 in 2004, in 2005, a total of 25 oil blocs were sold while 8 and 7 were sold in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
The Arole Oodua and Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade is one of the prominent traditional rulers who have been named as owners of oil blocs in Nigeria. Findings revealed that the Ooni is linked to Alfred James Petroleum on account of his sons, three of who are directors of the company. Alfred James owns the Oil Prospecting License OPL 302 which was awarded in 1991.
A northern traditional ruler whose name came up among owners is Alhaji Ado Bayero, the Emir of Kano. Like the Ooni, the Emir of Kano is believed to have stakes in many companies where he has some of his sons on the Board of Directors. One of them is the well loved Turakin Kano, Nasir Ado Bayero, who is a Director of Platform Petroleum, the owner of OML 38.
The Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo too is listed as one of the Directors of Oando. Findings revealed that Kabiyesi is listed as a non-executive Director.
Oba Frederick Akinruntan of the Obat Oil fame too appears on the list. Ever before he became the Olugbo of Ugbo Kingdom, he has been a major force in the oil and gas sector. Oba Akinruntan is listed on the board of Guarantee Petrol and Owena Oil, owners of OML 095. He is listed alongside Ondo State indigenes like Otunba Solomon Oladunni and the late Rufus Giwa.
A popular traditional ruler from the South South who is a prominent feature on the list is Dr Edmund Daukoru Mingi XIII, the Amayobo of Nembe Kingdom. The traditional ruler, who holds a PhD in Geology was a Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum as well as Minister of State for Energy and he also served as the President of the Oil Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2006. He is on the Board of Platform Petroleum.