Epic political blame game follows $ 9 billion judgment debt
With the arrival of a multibillion dollar debt judgment against the government, all parties are scrambling to blame the calamity on someone else.
A London court this month ruled that Nigeria was required to pay compensation to Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID), a company set up in the British Virgin Islands by two Irish businessmen, to build a refinery of gas in Calabar, in the oil-rich Niger Delta. .
The presiding judge ruled that the company has the right to seize $ 9 billion in Nigerian government assets from the failed project.
Officials of Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan administrations are now blaming each other.
Admittedly, the officials of the two administrations did not cover themselves with glory.
- The deal, which laid the groundwork for the ongoing legal action, was a gas supply and processing agreement signed in January 2010.
- If done, the deal would have made up a significant percentage of Nigeria’s energy deficit (Africa’s largest oil and gas producer has a notoriously epileptic power supply).
- P&ID claims around $ 40 million was spent on the project, but Nigeria failed to meet its obligations and cost the company billions in damages representing future profits it lost.
The value of the landmark decision is about a fifth of Nigeria’s $ 45 billion foreign reserves.
- In 2013, after the deal failed, P&ID took the government to court and won a $ 6.6 billion arbitration case against the federal government.
- Four years later, the company received $ 6.6 billion, with an additional $ 2.4 billion included in accrued interest.
- Nigeria has for years resisted attempts by P&ID to initiate enforcement proceedings in the United States and the United Kingdom; the UK court ruling last week now allows the company to begin seizing Nigerian assets.
- Under the Jonathan administration, Nigeria negotiated an out-of-court settlement with P&ID for a much lesser sum of $ 850 million. However, the president left the payment to the new Buhari administration, which overturned the settlement and asked his lawyers to resume the litigation.
Jonathan’s men claim his successor delayed and ignored payments to upset him. Remo Omokri, a former presidential spokesman, has now shed light on the deal.
“This transaction took place in January 2010” he said in a statement over the weekend. “Former President Jonathan was not President in January 2010. During this time he was completely excluded from power by an unelected cabal which ruled Nigeria during the period of ill health of the late President Yar’Adua, before the National Assembly bravely intervenes. February 9, 2010. ”
Jonathan took office in February 2010 and, according to Omokri, the deal had already been initiated by Rilwanu Lukman, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s oil minister. The late president’s cabinet and close allies had refused to hand over sensitive documents to his deputy because Yar’Adua had not handed over to him as the constitution requires.
“This same cabal has resurrected and has now regrouped around President Muhammadu Buhari, some of them being appointed as ministers or formal and informal advisers,” Omokri added. “In fact, the main man behind this cabal is now one of the people closest to General Buhari.”
Unsurprisingly, Buhari’s administration pushed back, with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami saying he will chase everyone related to debt settlement
- “… despite the vigorous and concerted efforts of the current administration to combat corrupt practices and rent-seeking in all its forms, Nigerians woke up on Friday August 16, 2019 with the grossest consequences of the underhanded actions of past administration, ”says Malami.
At the end of the line : Political actors are constantly retrained in Nigeria, where ethnicity and religion are great identity markers. While the identity of the “cabal” remains obscure, Yar’Adua and Buhari are from the same state and have common allies. Ruthless politicians will no doubt use this to further divide Nigerians.
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