N3.3b Public Funds: Between Fayemi And Igbinedion’s Profligacy

Although, Kayode Fayemi and lucky Igbinedion are both former governors of Ekiti and Edo States respectively, the duo’s public perceptions while in office are several miles apart. While Fayemi was reputed for landmark physical infrastructure development in Ekiti during his four year sojourn in the Governor’s House in Ado-Ekiti, same could not be said of the heir to the Esama of Benin,Gabriel Igbinedion, Lucky.

lucky igbinedion
Lucky igbinedion’s reign as Governor in Edo State for eight years between 1999 and 2007 was ostensibly characterized by controversies and public outcry against mediocrity in governance. The eight years that Igbinedion held sway in Edo as Governor witnessed no single tangible achievement that the people of Edo state could be proud of. The roads in Benin City, capital of the State were impassable. The situation was worse during the raining season as the entire ancient city was always submerged in the belly of floods.
Teachers were always on strike. Public hospitals had no drugs to dispense to the sick and the vulnerable. The biggest industry in the state was prostitution amongst the girls, some of whom plied their trade in Italy and other European countries.
One can conveniently say that governance practically took a flight throughout the two terms that Igbinedion spent as PDP Governor in the State.
Ekiti State house-1-e1414076267341

On the other hand, Kayode Fayemi was reputed for being an apostle of change in Ekiti State for the four years he spent in the governor’s house in Ado-Ekiti. He earned the people’s admiration in the area of physical infrastructure. He built roads, and schools. He built hospitals and housing estates for the people of the state.
The duo however, has two things in common. There was a disconnect between the governors and the people of the respective states that they governed. While Igbinedon was accused of spending N2b to celebrate his father’s 70th birthday in London and South African ten years ago, the generality of the people were wallowing in abject poverty due to his style of administration. The former Oredo Local Government chairman was painting town red every weekend.
Fayemi in his own case gave the people of Ekiti a wide berth while at the helm of affairs in the state. It was easier to break the security protocols in Aso rock to see Goodluck Jonathan than to see Fayemi the governor. Yemi Adaramodu, his Chief of Staff was generally known to be the defacto governor. Fayemi stood aloof with the people of the state. And he paid dearly for it at the last poll when he lost to Ayo Fayose, the Stomach infrastructure exponent
Adaramodu was loathed by the people for his arrogance and the aggression was transferred to his principal at the June 20 Governorship election in Ekiti State. He lost the election not because of non-performance, as reports indicated, but due to a mismatch between good performance and alienating himself from the people he was supposed to lead.
Ekiti state new government house-1

As conservative as Fayemi could be while in government, not a few Nigerians were taken aback at the news of his N3.3b government house project while the state was owing civil servants three months salary as at the time he was leaving office. Fayemi was exposed by the Fayose government on how the huge sum of money was expended on governor’s house, a project that has little or no direct impact on the man on the street.
Fayemi’s defence of the project was most despicable. Fayemi argued that his government was reputed for infrastructural development of the state; and the governor’s house project was in line with his policy of infrastructural development. He argued that he did not spend N50m but only N35m was expended on the beds in both his room and that of his wife.
It was disclosed that the Fayemi administration expended N50m to purchase beds for his room and his wife’s. Interestingly, Fayemi had thought he would win the second term election as governor; hence he had made the facilities in the governor’s house to meet his taste. It cannot however, be confirmed if Fayemi would spend his personal money to provide the kind of facilities in the new governor’s house in his own personal house.
Fayemi, came under fierce attack from his successor, Ayo Fayose, who accused him of living in opulence while the people of the state wallowed in poverty. Fayose alleged that his predecessor purchased two beds worth N50 for himself and his wife in the new Government House he (Fayemi) built. The governor, nonetheless, bequeathed a debt profile of N57b to his successor.

The late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, had asserted that Nigerian leaders would do well to themselves and to the electorate if they can always refrain from the world of opulence that they would not be able to afford after leaving public service. He was worried by the way those in authorities spent public money to provide comfort for themselves and their families while they were in government.
Igbinedion’s case was even worse. Lucky ran out of luck during his tenure as governor of Edo State when he was duped N3.3b of public funds in a messy oil transaction involving some Venezuelan fraudsters. A legal bid by Igbinedion, to recover N3.3 billion he lost to Venezuelan fraudsters in a weird oil deal, was recently quashed by a United States District Court.
Luck Igbinedion2

The 2006 transaction, facilitated by former Venezuelan Ambassador, Enrique Arrundell, was enmeshed in a pile of intrigues so deep that the court ruled that the deal might not even have happened in the first place.
According to the court, beyond evidence of money transfers to New York and Swiss bank accounts, very little about the deal can be “established with any certainty.”
Part of the messy details surrounding the deal was the less-than-wholesome involvement of Nigerian oil and gas heavyweight, MRS Oil and Gas Limited, at a time when it had not even commenced business.
MRS is owned by Sayyu Dantata, cousin of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, who is also believed to own up to 20 percent of the company.
The Street Journal reports that MRS was allegedly used by Dangote to corner the shares of the now defunct Texaco for Sayyu to the detriment of another billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola. Otedola had argued that there was an unwritten between him and Dangote that either of the duo would venture into the business line of the other person. Otedola was so furious that he decided to begin sugar and cement importation in an attempt to spite Dangote.
In 2006, through his now defunct company, Skanga Energy and Marine Limited, Mr. Igbinedion, while still a sitting governor, tried to make a killing from the lucrative but fraud-tainted oil importation business. Mr. Igbinedion instructed his old secondary school friend and front, Chris Imoukhuede, to approach Mr. Arrundell to help pave way for the company to procure diesel and PMS from Venezuela.
Mr. Imoukhuede was the chief executive officer of Skanga at the time.
Mr. Arrundell on his part introduced Mr. Imoukhuede to a suspected Venezuelan conman, Francisco Gonzalez, who claimed that his fraudulent company, Arevenca, was a registered agent for Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos De Venezuela S.A (PDVSA).
After several months of scheming that involved exchange of emails in broken English, dodgy shipping documents, and trips to Caracas, Mr. Igbinedion thought he was getting a deal made in heaven.
In fact, during one of such trips to Caracas in January 2007, the mustachios politician was ostensibly handed the key to the city of Caracas and announced as the “Alcaldía de Libertador”, the honorary Mayor of the central Caracas borough of Libertador in an elaborate event garnished with lavish dinner and expensive wine and attended by powerful Venezuelans.
The breakdown of the deal looked as glamorous: Averenca would initially send 35,000 metric tons of AGO to Skanga and later up it to three cargoes monthly. All that was required was for Skanga to pay for the freight and make partial payment for the consignment. It was only required to make full payment after three months of taking delivery of the full shipment.
Mr. Igbinedion authorised the transfer of about $22 million to Averenca’s Swiss and New York accounts. The consignments were supposed to be delivered in two ships – Digniti and Ventur. The shipments never arrived. The Nigerian Port Authority said it does not have any record of “Digniti” or “Ventur” entering Nigerian waters at the time it was billed to arrive.
Investigation also revealed that there are no vessels named “Dignitii” or “Ventur”. Searches on Lloyds directories and other ship directories showed that the ships never existed anywhere in the world.
After it dawned on him that he had been duped, Mr. Igbinedion instituted a $600 million lawsuit against PDVSA arguing that Arevenca was its agent and thus PDVSA was liable for the actions of its agent.
Strangely, despite Skanga’s tenacious legal action against PDVSA, for some reasons only Mr. Igbinedion and Mr. Imoukuede can answer, it did not serve Arevenca or Mr. Gonzalez notice of the lawsuit, despite listing them as defendants.
Mr. Imoukuede told the court that the multi-million dollar deal was not documented but sealed orally after a meeting with Mr. Arrundell and Mr. Gonzalez in his Caracas hotel room.
The wieldy oil deal may not be a complete charade, as it seems. In fact, Skanga displayed strong intentions that it really wanted to buy petroleum products from PDVSA legitimately from the onset.
Court documents revealed that Mr. Imoukhuede approached the corporation and indeed held a meeting with PDVSA’s and Venezuelan Ministry of Energy and Mines officials on October 30, 2006 at PDVSA headquarters in Venezuela.
“Imoukhuede admits that Skanga had not engaged in any commercial transactions with any entity before the alleged transactions that led to this litigation.”
Investigation also revealed that at different times between 2006 and 2007, Skanga used three different addresses all around the Ajose Adeogun axis of highbrow Victoria Island, Lagos.
One of the addresses, 206B, Muri Okunola Street, is abandoned with a takeover notice from the Lagos State government pasted on its gate. The other two are occupied by a hotel and a bank. A security guard, who claimed to have been working in one of the addresses for “years” said that he had never heard of the name Skanga Energy and Marine before.

Author: News Editor

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