Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan was not without his friends while his tenure inside Aso Rock lasted.
Apart from his personal friends in the years preceding his presidency, Jonathan according to Aso Rock watchers, cultivated new friends while in offices. When the going was good they wined, dined and related with one another like associates of some sort who were ready to die for their benefactor, who in this case was Jonathan.
“It was common knowledge everywhere in this country that these men wined and dined with President Jonathan. They hard unfettered access to him wherever he was; be it the Villa, his country home or somewhere outside Nigeria. They got a lot of favours from Jonathan and other friends of the President. Some got waivers for foreign businesses. Others got high national honours. But like the true self-centred businessmen that they truly are, they so easily dumped Jonathan and pitch tent with the Buhari camp, courtesy of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who had vowed to play the spoiler’s role in Jonathan’s second term bid,” said a top Peoples Democratic Party, PDP national officer.
Nigerian Pilot gathered that in the countdown to the last general elections, these supposed friends of the outgoing President began to manifest their true colours and before long, unilaterally determined their relationship with Jonathan by craftily shifting their camp, allegiance and all that they individually and collectively took to Jonathan’s Presidency to the camp of All Progressives Congress, APC’s presidential candidate (and now the president-elect,) Muhammadu Buhari.
They were to underpin their determination to contribute to Jonathan defeat at the poll by staying away from the presidential fundraising that was organised to buoy Jonathan’s bid.
Nigerian Pilot learnt that because they were boys of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the latter warned them to stay away from the function. He was said to have told them that he would deal with any of them that defied his instruction. They obeyed giving excuses for their absence from the event.
“They were simply wining with Jonathan by day and dining with Buhari by night. They see it as being deft, clever or smart. But many of us see it as betrayal,” said the PDP officer.
Observers now fear that before long, these same people would begin to hover around Buhari to curry same old favours and preferential treatment from him at the expense of the country; they would then wait in the wings for any signal that would alert them to dump him too.
With his second highest national honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON, crested around his neck when he pleases, is the billionaire businessman who owns the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities.
The company operates in Nigeria and other African countries, including Benin, Cameroun, Ghana, South Africa, Togo and Zambia is one Jonathan friend of note who abandoned him when it mattered most.
His long list of business interests no doubt was enhanced far more in the Jonathan Presidency than eras before then. But he dumped his friend a few weeks to the election. As of January 2015, he had an estimated net worth of US$18.6 billion.
He easily flaunts the national honour of Member of the Federal Republic, MFR, which he got courtesy of the outgoing President. Ovia co-founded Zenith Bank with other stakeholders before retiring years back. He is promoter and founder of Visafone Communications Limited. Mr. Ovia is the Proprietor of the University of Information and Communication Technology, Agbor, Delta State. He serves as the Pioneer President of Nigeria Internet Group, NIG.
Abdul Samad Rabiu
He established BUA International Limited in 1988 for the sole purpose of commodity trading. The company engages in the importation of rice, edible oil, flour and iron and steel.
In 1990, the then government-owned Delta Steel Company contracted BUA to supply its raw materials needs, for which BUA was paid with finished products. This provided the needed windfall for the young company. BUA further ventured into steel, billets and iron ore importation and supplying multiple rolling mills in the country. The company went on to acquire a controlling stake in publicly listed Cement Company of Northern Nigeria in 2009 and commenced the construction of a $500 million cement plant in Edo State to be likely commissioned this year.
Observers swear that most of the company’s latter day achievements were courtesy of Rabiu’s closeness to Jonathan.
Capt. Osa Okunbor
A pilot formerly with Intercontinental Airlines and later the defunct Okada Air, he is a shareholder in Westminster Group Plc, United Kingdom, and also the Chairman of Westminster Security Solutions Limited, a franchise of Westminster Group Plc UK. He is chairman of Wells Dredging Limited, involved in dredging, sand filling and shore protection in the Niger Delta region. He is Chairman of Wells Habitat Limited, a company partnering the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency in the area of waste management.
But beyond the foregoing, he is a Director in Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Limited, a company that won the bid for Ibadan and Yola Power Distribution Companies, DISCOS. It would be recalled that the DISCOS came into being within the tenure of Jonathan.
He is an economist by training, an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. Elumelu holds the Nigerian national honours, the Commander of the Order of Nigeria, CON, and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic, MFR. In 2011, New African Magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in Africa and a year later, he was recognised as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People in 2012” by Forbes Magazine.
Most of these he got courtesy of his closeness to Jonathan.
Femi Otedola is the billionaire owner of multi-billion naira indigenous oil giant, Zenon. Zenon, which is directly run by Otedola, is the dominant force in the diesel business among oil marketing concerns. It thus supplies all the important fuel used to power generating sets of most Nigerian industries and manufacturing firms. These include Dangote Group, Cadbury, Coca Cola, Nigerian Breweries, MTN, Unilever, Nestle, and Guinness, among others.
Otedola is said to have contributed well over N100 million to Olusegun Obasanjo’s re-election expenses. And under the aegis of friends of Obasanjo and Atiku, he contributed N25 million towards the rehabilitation of the National Mosque in Abuja. He was one of the co-launchers of Obasanjo Presidential Library, to which he donated N200 million.
As it is typical of men of his ilk, he detached himself from Obasanjo and identified with the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration before relocating to Jonathan’s upon the former’s demise. And like others, he promptly dumped Jonathan at the behest of Obasanjo and supported Buhari.