By JULIUS OMEGARA
For several weeks now, I have taken time to read and analyse some pieces written by all manner of persons regarding what is currently happening to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, Chief (Dr) Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah. What readily comes to my mind after going through what certain individuals wrote was that they lacked adequate information to substantiate their write up, thereby portraying our country as a place where anything goes.
I shall return to this shortly. But let me start by saying that two main issues recently brought to the fore, all the saga we have been hearing and reading about Ubah, the young oil magnate who seats on top of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited. One of it is the controversial Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede-led Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments.
The second is the acclaimed business deal between the Managing Director of Cosharis Motors, Mr. Cosmas Maduka, a director in Access Bank, a financial institution, which also has Aig-Imoukhuede as the Managing Director/CEO. What we were told is that Maduka helped Ubah to secure facility from Access Bank, where he (Maduka) expected the same Ubah to make available the collateral needed for the loan, but while at the same time hoping to share in the profit from the business, which the loan would be used to transact.
By the way, the loan was to be used for fuel importation under the controversial fuel subsidy arrangement and it was actually used for that purpose. But the third leg of the Ubah/Maduka/Aig-Imuekhuede raging controversy, which concerns the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) and which some people have also failed to see through the secret ploy to undermine the interest of Ubah is derivable from the two scenarios highlighted above. Let us look at the Aig-Imouekhuede committee saga closely with regard to Ubah and his business interest.
Where I come from, there is this popular saying that if a child is crying and pointing his finger at a particular direction, if his father’s relation is not at the direction the finger is being pointed, then the mother’s relation must be there. Ubah has repeatedly accused the Aig-Imuekhuede committee of a hidden agenda, in most cases saying there is conspiracy with some people to take the business, which he invested his spirit, soul and body to nurture.
For example, he had maintained that the failure of the Federal Government to pay him several billions of naira being owed him as a result of the importation, lifting of fuel and storage of same in his massive and state-of-the-art tank farm, the best in the country, as one of those the Federal Government engaged for the fuel subsidy transaction, is due to the Aig-Imuekhuede committee’s report to undermine him.
And his reason is cogent going by the loan Ubah is believed to owe Access from a joint venture with Maduka, the bank’s director. What this amounts to is that someone wants to be a judge in his own case and if you ask other discerning minds that person is Aig-Imuekhuede because of the interest in his bank that claims to be owed billions of naira by Ubah and by virtue of the fact that the so-called business venture between Ubah and Maduka, the latter an Access Bank director, was yielding good profit before the deal went awry.
Discerning minds have been wondering how Access Bank granted Maduka $286 million facility without collateral, simply because he went to Ubah’s facility and what he saw got him thinking that Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited is a money minting machine. Is it possible for Aig-Imuekhuede to be ignorant of what transpired between Maduka and Ubah before the $286 million loan was given? In an ideal situation, both Maduka and Aig-Imuekhuede ought to have either been advised to resign their membership of whatever position they are holding in Access Bank, but the vital question again is, will the Central Bank of Nigeria under Sanusi Lamido Sanusi have the courage to call a spade by its name given that it was still under the same Sanusi that “small”
Access Bank swallowed the “bigger” former Intercontinental Bank without people asking pertinent questions? I have read where Access Bank promoters varied the loan Maduka collected for 10 years and how he listed several of Ubah’s property as his collateral. And if that is the true situation now with the controversial facility, why should a young man be destroyed just because someone wants to satisfy some interests?
Why has the Federal Government refused to pay Capital Oil for services rendered several months ago, knowing full well that he needs the money to settle some of his indebtedness? If anybody should be interested in ensuring that Capital Oil is paid what the government owes it, should that person not have been Aig-Imuekhuede since that will mean Ubah paying Access Bank part of what he owes it too? Methinks that the coming of AMCON in this whole saga was not even necessary if Maduka, Access Bank and Aig-Imuekhuede committee had approached the whole matter with an open mind.
They know Ubah’s Capital Oil and Gas has the capacity to pay his indebtedness and rather than assist him navigate out of the murky waters of difficult and strange business terrain that is synonymous with Nigeria, they are rather deriving pleasure in seeing that another business is shut with the greater implication of worsening the hardship being faced everyday by Nigerians. I will not round off this discuss without returning to the hatchet writers I made mention earlier in this piece.
While reading the column of former editor of THISDAY on November 25, 2012, I could not but weep for those who rely on the views enunciated by Simon Kolawole as reliable or dependable. Let’s quote Kolawole a little: “How is Ubah unable to account for four cargoes of petrol, valued at over $180million, which happens to be Maduka’s money? Over N29 billion worth of imported product gone just like that, without trace? “Now Maduka is struggling to recoup over N20 billion stuck in Ubah’s wallets.
The story goes on and on about how similar ‘transactions’ had been done and dusted in the past, leaving the victims with high pressure and trauma.” Those who read Kolawole’s article would have seen the holes in the argument. Is it out of place for Kolawole to call Ubah to find out what the true position is with the whole saga since I am sure he has his contact? Instead, he chose to believe what he wants to believe. Or does journalism no longer take care of the two sides of the coin or as it is said in Latin: Res ipsa loquitor.
Or how would one also situate the gist of one Lanre Alfred in the December 9, 2012 edition of THISDAY (GLITERATI) who simply set out to insult Ubah as if he is living better now than the oil giant or as if the development is not affecting his poor self. Granted that Ubah is having challenges with his business, but how does that translate to falling from grace to grass going by Lanre’s postulation? How does that also translate to being disgraced or reduced to socio-economic midget? If Ubah can still afford a place in Oriental Hotels, I wonder how that has reduced his personae because, locus inquo, still belongs to the big boys.
Many people, including Ubah, had long come to the understanding that his competitors in the oil and gas sector are part of those conspiring to cut the young man to size, but we won’t be surprised if Lanre knows who they are. To both Kolawole and Lanre, please, find time to read Onuoha Ukeh’s article in the Daily Sun of November 30 tagged “Issues in the Maduka-Ubah saga” to see how serious columnists treat controversial issues. •
Omegara wrote in from Abuja