Ogun State Land Scare! Government Blackmails Estate Developers, Land Owners

Volume II, Issue 20

Volume II, Issue 20

Last Monday, 8 June, 2009, the Ogun State Bureau of Lands and Survey, under the insignia of the State Government, had caused the publication of what it described as a “Final Warning” ostensibly directing the attention of individuals and corporate bodies to activities of estate developers and promoters in about 14 locations in the state where real estate development seems to be intense. The Bureau of Lands and Survey described the activities of the estate developers as illegal.

The second of such publication in two weeks, the last of the same half page public notice, did get the attention of the target population it was intended for; a hail of panic seized the community of estate developers and subscribers to the former virgin lands belonging to Ogun State but which have found new attraction in value because of their proximity to Lagos State. As affected estate developers became restless, so were subscribers, they became distressed. (Read More)

BGL still upset with underwriting AIT, Honeywell public offers

It is just as well that the Securities and Exchange Commission has decided to adopt the recommendation of the Oladotun Sulaiman’s Nigeria Capital Market Reform Committee on the reversal of compulsory underwriting of public offerings.

BGL Securities Limited, one of Nigeria’s lead issuing houses and brokerage firms, is said to still be smarting from the downside effect of underwriting two public offerings last year. BGL Securities was part of the underwriters of the public offering of Daar Communications and Honeywell.

Others –

Losses, Debts Force Sale of Zain

Transcorp To Lose Hilton Hotel, Abuja

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THE OBAMA PHENOMENON: HOW IT ALL STARTED

It is no longer news that humanity is today basking in the Obama Phenomenon which from all indications is set to alter the socio-political equations both in the United States and the world over. Obamas’ emergence as the 44th president of the world’s sole super power is a thing that was unthinkable just some years back, more so, when his race is famous for anything but standard behavior. Worst still is the fact that his ‘ancestral home’, Africa, is notorious for an assemblage of poor leaders and political waywardness.

This is why I am still baffled that Kenya, barely out of a political violence that engulfed it as a result of electoral fraud, shamelessly declared a public holiday to celebrate Obama’s emergence on the world stage. You can also see those lazy folks in our national legislative houses, briefly suspending their theatrics of daily assailing our ears with one revelation or the other on frauds and pilfering of public funds and other sordid revelations from the probe of one ministry or the other, conducted in the most unserious manner, even in announcing their findings. Of course, we do know that such probes are more for public show-offs than solving our problems- probes that will never be concluded; these legislators are now taking turns to commend something they never will allow to happen here. What a shame!

Painfully, it is becoming obvious that we are about to miss the opportunity of learning the lessons embedded in this great change the Lord is thrusting on mankind through this messiah of the 21st century. Rather than sit down to study this phenomenon and see how and why it worked and probably, seek to know how we can best apply it to our own pitiable situation, we are busy clicking wine glasses to drink to a state of stupor.

As a matter of challenge, we need to remind ourselves that OBAMA became what he is today because he had a vision rooted in dreams dreamt by a fellow American, turned it to a mission with a solid plan, worked on it with all he has, focused and selfless, carrying every one around him along through persuasion and strong character base that assailed even the strongest of hearts, and he landed finally to our admiration and maybe, for some, consternation.

The dream referred to above was dreamt by the late highly respected Rev. Martins Luther King Junior quoted below in part, which was the seed sown back in 1968 hence this phenomenon called Obama. It also shows that with resilience, patience, focus and belief rooted in the strong faith that for a dream to be realized, you must have the vision and be exceptionally focused, carrying every one on the way along. This is what makes Obama. It is what makes nations great and that is the difference between us and the person we are celebrating. The dream as in the speech is as follows:

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the emancipation proclamation. This momentous decree came as great beacon of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous day-break to end their midnight of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free, one hundred years later; the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and chains of discrimination, one hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the mist of the vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we have to our nation’s capital to cash a cheque. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the constitution and the declaration of independence, they were signing a promissory note for which every American fall heir. This note was the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men will be guaranteed inalienable right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad cheque, a cheque which has come back marked insufficient-fund. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vault of opportunities of this nation. And so we have come to cash this cheque, a cheque that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of ***.

I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, we hold this truth to be self evident that all men are created-equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression; will be transformed into oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day in Alabama with its vicious racist with its government having its lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification- that one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers…”

Well, every society it is said has its own gifts. We do have in Africa our own Rev. Martins Luther King in the mould of Nkruma, Awolowo, Nyerere, even the Madiba himself, Mandela. They may have, unlike the great Dreamer, participated in the governing processes in their various domains and times. They may also have made mistakes along the way. But what happened to their dreams? And where is our OBAMA? Instructively, as it is in politics and governance, so it is in business. Which is why we are still searching for a Bill Gate, neither are we able to light our homes 48 years in nationhood. Not to worry, the Germans are here maybe to ease out the Chinese? That is the typical rigmarole that characterizes our way of doing things.

CHEVRON CORPORATION BACKS OUT OF SALE OF CHEVRON NIGERIA TO DANTATA

When on 19 September, 2008 the media relations unit of Chevron Corporation USA circulated a press announcing that its subsidiary, Chevron Africa Holdings Limited had agree to sell Chevron Nigeria Holding to Corlay Global SA, the press release carried a caveat in compliance with the Cautionary Statement Relevant to Forward-Looking Information for the Purpose of “Safe Harbor” Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

The cautionary statement informed readers that:

“Some of the items discussed in this press release are forward-looking statements about Chevron’s activities in Nigeria. Words such as “anticipates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “targets,” “projects,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates” and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. The statements are based upon management’s current expectations, estimates and projections; are not guarantees of future performance; and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond the company’s control and are difficult to predict. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release. Unless legally required, Chevron undertakes no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.”

The caveat may just be appropriate because in the wake of the announcement of the agreement of sale of the downstream operations of Chevron Nigeria to Sayyu Dantata’s MRS, the intensity of the legal battle which had dogged the process of bidding for the 60 percent holding of Chevron Corporation held through Chevron Africa, moved some more notches and in the light of this, it is believed that the Chevron is considering appropriate channels to announce a reversal of its announcement.

Femi Otedola, Zenon Oil and Gas and Africa Petroleum Chairman had secured an injunction at a Lagos Federal High Court restraining Chevron from selling the 60 percent holdings without recourse to his 19 percent minority holding which, he claimed, may be jeopardized if the contested 60 percent holding was sold to another bidder who may lack the required expertise and resources to profitably operate the business.

Despite the injunction, Chevron parent office in San Ramon in the United States of America had gone ahead to announce the agreement to sell to Dantata’s company in defiance of the court order. Industry insiders reasoned that the announcement might have been a pre-emptive move to undermine the legal process in Nigeria. But beyond this consideration, industry insiders have argued that Chevron must have been emboldened to make the announcement in consideration of the influence of the backer of Sayyu, a profiled wealthy industrialist whom Chevron believes could pull the right strings in Nigeria to side-step the court proceedings and to also get the backing of the political power base in the country to talk Otedola into surrendering his claims to Chevron.

As was expected, Otedola initiated, through his lawyers, contempt proceedings against Chevron at the Federal High Court but last week Wednesday, he dramatically applied to withdraw the contempt proceeding in the court. This had sent some confusing signals to a growing population of the bid for Chevron.

A source close to Otedola, however, informed that the withdrawal of the contempt charge was strategic.

“The contempt proceeding had to be withdrawn because it may turn out to be a distraction from the main issue of the case.” The source said.

Another source believes that application to stop the contempt proceeding in court may not be unconnected with new revelations that Chevron Corporation, the parent company of Chevron Nigeria may have, indeed, stalled the process of transfer of the 60 percent holding in Chevron Nigeria to Dantata’s MRS in part, because of the on-going legal tango, and in part, because the required sum of money to consummate the purchase have not been made to it.

“The fact is that most Nigerian banks that are supposed to finance the acquisition have backed out, so it’s as if it is difficult to raise the fund locally.”

Any one of the two reasons for the reported abortion of the sale agreement might have thrown the spanners into what the initiators of the MRS bid for Chevron had planned by way of making the Nigerian public pay indirectly for the funding of the 60 percent shares of Chevron Nigeria.

“The strategy to my mind is simple. If the banks financed the acquisition of Chevron, it would have been easy for Sayyu and his backer to pay back the banks simply by selling 25 percent of the holding of Chevron to Nigerian investors through the Nigerian Stock Exchange. This way, they will still hold majority holdings in the company and they would have used money raised from ordinary Nigerians to pay back the money the banks used to finance the initial acquisition.” The source reasoned.

Meanwhile, Chevron has also made public its intention to sell its downstream operations trading under the Caltex brand name in Kenya.   According to AP, the front runners eyeing Chevron’s elaborate retail network include State-owned National Oil Corporation of Kenya and Gulf Africa Petroleum Corporation (Gapco). The two control a paltry 3.65 per cent and 2.65 per cent retail market share respectively.

Speculation is also rife that the cash-rich Oil Libya is equally an interested party, perhaps seeking a foothold in the Mombasa-based Kenya Petroleum Refinery Limited (KPRL), which has been much sought after by big multinationals, and is partly owned by Caltex.

The law, as spelt out under the Kenya’s Energy Act, requires Chevron to notify the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) of its intention to divest or transfer the licence to another oil marketer.

Previously, only the Treasury was notified in the event of divestiture by any firm.

“If the sale of Chevron will be through competitive bidding, this process may take some time to be concluded,” said Mr Peter Nduru, Head of Petroleum at ERC.

Treasury is reportedly pushing for Chevron to sell off only its Kenyan business unit to National Oil, despite plans by the global petroleum giant to sell its Kenya and Uganda operations as one bundle.

The AP report, however, observed that unlike in Kenya, this sale transaction on Chevron Nigeria was closed quickly when Chevron Nigeria hurriedly announced the agreement to sell to MRS.