WHY MISTERS SHOULD BE CREDIBLE EXPERTS AND NOT MERE POLITICIANS:
Trajectory of the atrocious $9bn judgment against Nigeria
(1) In Jan 2010, when the then President Umaru Yar’Adua was on sick bed in Saudi Arabia, his minister of petroleum, late Rilwanu Lukman, a member of the unelected cabal that held the country hostage entered into agreement with a U.K based firm Process and Industrial Develoment Ltd (P&ID). The agreement is for a gas supply and processing agreement with Nigeria’s Ministry of Petroleum Resources. Under the agreement, P&ID would build the necessary facilities and then refine natural gas into non associated natural gas for a period of 20 years.
(2) This transaction occurred in January of 2010. Former President Jonathan was not President in January 2010. During that time, he was completely shut out of power and kept in the dark by an unelected cabal that ran Nigeria during the period of the ill health of the late President Yar’adua, before the National Assembly courageously intervened on February 9, 2010.
(3) That cabal not only fought against the ascension of then Vice President Jonathan to the office of acting President, but went beyond that to take documents, including budgets and contracts, to Saudi Arabia, and claimed that the then ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’adua had signed them.
(4) While this controversial contract was signed in January of 2010, former President Jonathan only became acting President on February 9, 2010.
(5) After Yaradua’s death, the cabal took over government for close to 6months, completely shutting GEJ out of government. Within this time, Late Rilwane Lukman who was the petroleum minister at the time quickly packaged a fraudulent deal with P & ID and signed Nigeria’s future away.
(6) When GEJ finally took over, the deal was reviewed and found to be bad market for Nigeria, so he insisted that the deal be renegotiated. P&ID refused, knowing fully well what they got from Rilwane and instead took Nigeria to arbitration. The arbitration panel had Mr. Bayo Ojo, from Attorney General of the Federation as a member.
(7) In 2013, P&ID won the arbitration and were awarded in the INTERIM about $6billion, being the money they would have earned if the deal had gone ahead, whereas, Nigeria would have earned next to nothing.
(8) GEJ sent Diezani, Okonjo Iweala and some other officials to Ireland to negotiate an out of court settlement with P&ID. Finally, early 2015, P&ID agreed to take $850million, payable in instalments, instead of $6billion. This was submitted for Presidential approval a week to President Jonathan’s departure from office.
(9) Becuase it would have amounted to tying the hands of the incoming government to grant the approval for the payment of that sum GEJ had to hand over to Buhari who first wasted 6months before facing governance. Then he made himself petroleum minister and without even understanding the details of the deal and subsequent arbitration and out of court settlement, Buhari refused to pay the $850million and went back to court. Ultimately, he lost the case, as expected and because it’s been 6years since the original arbitration, the money plus interest accrued is now $9.6billion (N3.5 trillion).
(10) At a point, Buhari government procured an order of Federal High Court Lagos to set aside the interim arbitration Order but the Arbitration proceedings in London continued nonetheless to determine the quantum of damages and on January 31, 2017, the Tribunal issued its Final Award. The Tribunal insisted that P&ID would have played its own part in the contract if Nigeria had not repudiated its own obligations. It therefore ruled in favour of P&ID and ordered Nigeria to pay US$6.597,000, 000 being net present value of the profits which would have been earned by the P&ID. The Federal Government was also asked to pay interest on the amount at 7% per annum from March 2013. This final ruling was given in 2017. The Nigerian Government refused to pay and also failed to appeal the ruling.
(11) March 2018, P&ID went to the Commercial Court in England to insti
tute proceedings for the enforcement of the Final Award as declared by the Arbitration Tribunal. The Nigerian Government again did not respond in time. It waited till October 2018 before it finally acknowledged service and applied for relief for sanctions. The matter would finally be heard by Justice Christopher Butcher.
(12) Butcher, J. in his August 16, 2019 ruling made heavy weather out of several acts of omission on the part of the Nigerian authorities. He observed in one instance, that “…the FRN had remedies for any procedural unfairness, but it did not utilise them”. Nigeria could also have objected to Procedural Order No. 12 or question the Final Award. In the words of Butcher J., “it did neither and the time for doing so is long past.”
(13) P&ID are no longer interested in the out of court settlement and have now been given authority to take over all of Nigeria’s assets in the UK to the tune of $8.9billion. if they don’t get up to that amount in the UK, they will also take their case to the EU and US until every penny is paid. Worse, every day that passes, the money continues to yield interest.
(14) If the judgment is executed and the debt is paid, the UK firm would walk away with 20% of Nigeria’s external reserve, which stood at $44.425b in an economy that is being weighed down by over $80b sovereign debt profile. The consequences of this are better imagined.
My take: all those who are responsible for this atrocious debt, begining from the cabals that held the country hostage during the eve Yar’Adua’s Nuremberg and those benefited from this one sided contract must be brought to book.
You have also seen why a Minister of Petroleum should be an Engineer and a credible and competent expert, and not of buhari’s caliber.