Billionaire businessman and heavy spender, Mr Tunde Ayeni is reported to have gotten an outrageous compensation by the outgoing government of President Goodluck Jonathan for buying one of the unbundled distribution company of the privatised Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). The questionable deal has been exposed by an online news platform, www.energynewsngr.com and reproduced here……..
“No doubt, a pitiful mixture of folly and vain, deluding visions of grandeur has caused President Goodluck Jonathan’s coterie of shady business associates and “Yes men” monumental losses amounting to billions of naira. These gang of fortune hunters who are adept at enabling jobbery and corruption in public offices, high public offices to be precise, enthusiastically threw in their lot in the power sector bazaar thrown open by President Jonathan in the wake of the decapitation and sale of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) at give-away prices.
Having acquired outrageous bank loans to acquire bits and chunks of what used to be a national treasure and the country’s main electric power generator, the president’s shady associates including, Tunde Ayeni, Chairman of Skye Bank Plc, Ben Peters, Tope Sonubi of Sahara Energy, to mention a few, thought it was only a matter of months before they recouped their investments in the power sector. But they were wrong; things haven’t gone the way they expected.
Besides the businessmen’s pitiful greed and lust for wealth, observers see the cause of their losses and slow growth in power generation as a result of transmission and distribution infrastructure problems, corruption, and failure of the new owners of power infrastructure to mobilise new investments even as many apparently lack the technical competence to run the firms. During the privatisation exercise, there were allegations of misdeeds in the bidding process. President Jonathan rather than approve licenses by merit, chose to favour his gang of loyalists and business associates. It was widely alleged that the process was not transparent; Prof. Bart Nnaji, then Minister for Power lost his job in the process. The issues of transparency and political will were also raised on the contracting of transmission rights.
However, the biggest problem facing the new investors in the sector is the suspicion if not discovery that many of the power plants they bought were overpriced even at the give-away prices that they were acquired by the new owners. They were said to have submitted their bids without taking into cognisance the fact that the power plants have been in bad condition for decades due to poor maintenance. Many of the businessmen frantically made their bid in desperation to satisfy their lust for acclaim; they were too eager to rise in status above their friends and rivals in the business world and high society.
This appreciation in status they feverishly sought to achieve to the detriment of any realistic business intent. Now that they are saddled with responsibility of raising funds for the business, many of the foreign financial institutions they had earlier approached for loans, are reluctant to lend money to them due to what they described as unpredictability of the Nigerian economy. It is even more difficult for them to access funding from local banks as the latter lack the financial muscle to offer them such facility. More worrisomely, many of these new stakeholders in the power sector are up to their neck in debt to local banks; consequently, they are finding it difficult to raise funds for their new projects and status enhancers.
However, as Nigerians groan under biting petrol shortages over subsidy row, Tunde Ayeni has every reason to smile as you read, the President Jonathan has approved the sum of 213 million dollars compensation for him. The money, we gathered, will be paid tomorrow. Tunde who bought the Yola Distribution for over 40 million dollars would be paid 213 million dollars as compensation. According to a source, Tunde complained that Boko Haram activities affected the takeoff of the Yola project. Interestingly, Tunde who has been trying all possible means to be in the good book of General Buhari, the president-elect, is the only one out of all the people who invested in the power sector to be compensated.
You couldn’t have forgotten so soon that he was the highest donor for the President Goodluck Jonathan Campaign . Findings revealed that no sooner than new President-elect was declared Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the March 28 presidential elections than Ayeni’s world came crashing like a poorly moulded sandcastle. Sources close to him revealed that the Chairman of Skye Bank realised that he was deep trouble when all the odds began to play out in favour of Buhari; when the latter was eventually declared winner of the presidential elections, Ayeni slumped into hysterical mode. He started running helter-skelter in search of help from imminent prosecution and jail term under a Buhari leadership.
It would be recalled that the very day President Jonathan was sworn-in as President, Ayeni and his bosom friend, Captain Hosa Okunbor were some of the few privileged Nigerians invited to the Villa to celebrate with the new first family. So doing, they acquired at ridiculous prices, any state investment that interested them.
For instance, Ayeni bought Nitel/Mtel at $252 million, a cost ridiculously below the actual value of the moribund parastatal. He also recently acquired Mainstream Bank for Skye Bank. He owns the consortium that bought over Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company as well as the Yola Distribution Company, at ridiculous rates.
In 2012, he became the chairman of Skye Bank and since then he has never been short of fund to oil his investment and passion. A situation which an anonymous source within the bank claimed has depleted Skye Bank’s savings to the tune of N48bn. Little wonder his N2 billion donation to the President Goodluck Jonathan reelection campaign caused so much anxiety among Skye Bank customers who, for fear of safety of their savings, went on panic withdrawal when the news broke out.
In the wake of Ayeni’s several shady deals and new President-elect Buhari’s victory at the March 28 presidential polls, life has taken a sad and frightening turn for Ayeni. So terrified is he of being prosecuted and sent to jail under a Buhari government that he has resorted to desperate measures to save himself.”