Thursday, February 2, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Exclusive: Buhari’s new oil mafia

Exclusive: Buhari's new oil mafia

President Buhari - NNPC

Cronies of President Muhammadu Buhari with no experience have found their way into the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the sale of Nigerian crude for 2017/2018.

The NNPC has done everything during the bidding process to accommodate the President's interest, his wife, Chief of Staff and other Senior members of his kitchen cabinet. Favourism above experience could affect the smooth operation of the sector and further breeds corruption.

The NNPC, had recently released the names of 39 bidders for the sale and purchase of Nigerian crude, which include 18 Nigerian companies and 11 International Traders. Also, five foreign refineries, three National Oil Companies (NOCs) and two NNPC trading arms were selected.

According to Africa Energy Intelligence, "while the majority of 18 local trading concerns chosen by NNPC to sell its crude know the ropes a few have no experience of this type of contract," – these are the Buhari men enlisted in the oil business to protect the President's interest.

AEI reported in its last issue (Aei 785), that "several traders appeared for the first time on a list of companies winning cargoes from NNPC in 2017-18."

The AEI report exposing Buhari's greenhorns-oil-mafia and the Buhari favourites. Some of the newest trading companies hadn't won an alloca- tion until president Muhammadu Buhari took office. This was the case of Setana Energy which was incorporated on the Isle of Man and, according to our sources, is headed by Edward Edozian. Based in London he happens to be the cousin of Luis Edozian, current secretary-general at the energy ministry. Setana is also present in Ivory Coast where it is represented by Foungniguetene Silue, founder of the local trading concern Sigma Energy.

Another firm appearing on NNPC's list for the rst time, Cassiva Energy, is run by businessman Alhaji Nasir Danu, who's very close to Nigeria's leader. He was the number two man in the Muhamadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Organization in 2011. Danu also enjoys close ties with the First Lady, Aisha Buhari.

Another surprise debut among NNPC's local traders was Levene Energy which was awarded one cargo per month. The firm is said to be controlled by a figure close to the current minister of state for aviation, Sirika Hadi, a politician from Katsina state like the Nigerian President. Hadi was one of the leaders of the party founded by Buhari in 2006, Congress for Progressive Change.

Levene Energy is currently run by Daniyal Jibrilu, who's also close to businessman Oba Otudeko, founder of Honeywell and President of the bank FBN Holdings, as well as to Nzan Ogbe, Adviser to the former Governor of Cross River state, Liyel Imoke. Executives at NNPC say Levene Energy, like the two other above-cited companies, were added to the list at the request of the President's offfice. NNPC group's Managing Director, Maikanti Kacalla Baru, lauded the "transparency" of NNPC's choices.

Those that lost out. Some companies that were accustomed to handling NNPC's cargoes each year were dropped from the list. One was Petrodel, a firm owned by trader Michael Prest, even though he helped the Buhari government in 2016 to obtain shipments of gasoline when Nigeria was particularly hard hit by shortages. Another left out was Forte Oil owned by Lagos-based billionaire Femi Otedola, as were others that previously dominated swap arrangements (gasoline for crude) like Talevers, Ontario and Aiteo. Otedola lost out because of his previous ties with the former government of Goodluck Jonathan and his oil resources minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The Obasekis connection

Chief of BP's Nigerian operations for the past several months, Michael Obaseki has already pulled off quite a feat: BP Trading is on the list of companies awarded allocations of NNPC's crude for 2017 (see Aei 785 and P 2). Obaseki has spent much of his career with BP and his family in Nigeria is one of the best-connected in the land.

One of his close relatives, Godwin Obaseki, is the new strongman in Edo state, having been elected governor of the oil-rich area in the Niger Delta last November. Obaseki, who was elected governor on the banner of the ruling party of President muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives congress, founded the Afrinvest equity fund. But the local BP chief is also a nephew of Jackson gaius-obaseki, former head of NNPC who once also headed the Brass lNg project.

In his job at NNPC he was the superior of the current head of the state-owned company, Maikanti Kacalla Baru. He is one of the leading decision-makers when it comes to crude cargoes allocated by NNPC. For the latest list (see p. 2), he has been assisted by the Chief of Staff of the president, Abba kyari, and a cousin of the President, Mamman daura.

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