Obasanjo Sold Crude Oil To Jamaica At $12

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LEADERSHIP
April 5, 2008

UNBELIEVABLE! Obasanjo Sold Crude Oil To Jamaica At $12

Prince Charles Dickson

Raked millions into his accounts

The last may not have been heard about the many dirty transactions carried out by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his cronies during his eight-year misrule of the country, as more revelations are emerging by the day.

LEADERSHIP Weekend can authoritatively reveal that the former president, in his characteristic fraudulent manner, sold crude oil to the Jamaican government at the cheap price of $12 per barrel, even when the product was selling for about three times that amount on the international market.

Using one Mr. Carl Masters, an associate of Goodworks International, Obasanjo appointed him as the oil liaison agent for the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ). Through him all the sales were made. Under this arrangement, it was discovered that Goodworks was to get 15 per cent of the total earnings from PCJ, while he (Obasanjo) would get 20 per cent through proxy companies acting as oil traders.

The PCJ was incidentally established in 1979 to act as the official contractor for the Jamaican government, working directly with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in all aspects of oil trading for Jamaica. The deal, it was gathered, was part of a bilateral agreement reached between the Nigerian government and Jamaica in October 1978 when the then Jamaican prime minister, Michael Manley, paid an official visit to Nigeria during the military government of Obasanjo.

According to LEADERSHIP Weekend’s findings, it was agreed that Nigeria, through the NNPC, would supply Jamaica with about 15,000 barrels of its crude oil daily, amounting to an annual volume of 5,475,000 barrels.

The price was to be determined by Nigeria, while Jamaica was to trade the product at the open market and earn a margin from the sale.

It was also learnt that although the arrangement for the supply was intended to be commercial, a long-term (90-day) credit facility was allowed.

LEADERSHIP Weekend also gathered that the understanding then was that earnings from the business be channelled into development projects in Jamaica, as well as ensuring energy security in that country.

Though the contract was supposed to be between two governments, its management and implementation were to be strictly commercialised; all contractors involved with the arrangement were to adhere to this, at the prevailing rate as determined by the Nigerian government.

PCJ lifted the first consignment in May 1979, through Vitol SA, and, from 1979 to 1984, PCJ cargoes carrying the crude were shipped to Shell refinery in Curacao N.A for refining.

This arrangement went on smoothly until 1984 when ownership of the refinery changed, and the contract was terminated and, subsequently, Froyle and Bentley were made oil liaison agents to supervise the trade on behalf of PCJ.

Our investigations, however, indicate that PCJ, which was hurriedly established apparently to make brisk business at the expense of Nigeria, has not met any of the requirements for going into such business with Nigeria.

At the time of the deal, it was required that for any company to embark on such business in Nigeria, it must have logistics for lifting, shipping, delivery and sale of the products.

In addition, such company was required to post a bond of at least US$1.0 million as well as make certain investments in the country. The company, however, could not meet any of these requirements due to lack of capacity.

Furthermore, it was required that due to the volume and uncertainties, the company must have been a trader with the NNPC. Yet, this was not the case with the company that was hurriedly put in place.

Instead of ending this illegality, in 1989, the Jamaican prime minister, while hosting the then Vice President, Augustus Aikhomu, asked Nigeria to increase the quantity of the crude oil allocated to his country.

This request was, later in November of the same year, raised to 20,000 barrels a day, bringing the annual lifting to 7,300,000 barrels, and the type of crude added to include Bonny Light, among other quality crude in high demand globally.

This went on until the short tenure of Ernest Shonekan as head of the interim government, when NNPC was directed to cancel such contracts and the companies were invited to re-apply in November of that year.

PCJ also re-applied but failed to secure a renewal, which Leadership Weekend learnt was for political reasons.

According to an oil expert who spoke with our correspondents, the decision not to renew the PCJ contract was due to the sore relation between the late General Sani Abacha, the then head of state, and General Olusegun Obasanjo.

But soon after his swearing in as president in 1999, efforts to re-establish the contract began, and it only took a visit by Jamaican Prime Minister Patterson to Nigeria and a subsequent one by the minister of mining and energy, Hon Robert Pickersgill, in December of 1999, for the good old days of milking Nigeria dry to resume.

Our correspondents gathered that Carl Masters, a Jamaican whose marriage to Leon Sullivan’s daughter was presided over by Obasanjo here in Nigeria, resurfaced and the lifting of Nigeria’s oil began again on October 1, 2000.

Between October 2000 and April 2006, PCJ lifted a total of 37,202,334 barrels of Nigeria’s crude, making US$2,799,340 during the six-month contract period.

As at the time Obasanjo left office last year, PCJ had a contract that allows it to lift 30,000 barrels of the nation’s oil every day or an annual lift of 10.95 million.

Our correspondents also learnt that the company’s audited records from 1979 to March 2005 showed that it purchased Nigeria’s oil at only US$13, while same was sold for more than US$100 in the international market.

On April 1, 2005, PCJ instructed the Jamaican Ministry of Finance and Planning to pay the net income without the management fee, while the management fee was paid into three companies linked to the former president.

It is equally strange that the arrangement was that from the Jamaica side, the secretary to the Board of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica would be a signatory, while the other official from Nigeria involved is Obasanjo.

When contacted on telephone, Levi Ajuonuma, NNPC group general manager, public affairs, feigned ignorance, insisting that he could not comment on the matter, and promising to make inquiries. When pressed further, he said, “Nigeria has such agreements with several countries, and Jamaica could be one of them since it is a friendly country.”

It could be recalled that after he left power on May 29, 2007, one of the first places he visited was Jamaica, where he stayed for a long time, obviously to ensure that his accounts were intact.

 

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