BMO To Nigerians: Rally Behind Your Country On $9.6bn Judgement Debt
The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has appealed to Nigerians, regardless of political persuasions, to rally round the country as the government strives to stave off the largest financial liability in her history as a result of the botched controversial contract with Process and Industrial Development (P&ID).
According to the group, this is the best collective reaction rather than the divisive response to the $9.6bn arbitration award and the UK court’s enforcement judgement against Nigeria over a gas processing plant that was never built.
BMO said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke that this is necessary because of the various anomalies in the process leading to the ‘award’ of the contract.
“This is the time the citizenry need to be supportive of efforts by the Federal Government to file a stay of execution, and also an appeal against a judgment that, if enforced, could see the country losing its prized assets to the British Virgin Islands-registered P&ID.
“Here is a contract that has been established to have been shrouded in secrecy, and we consider it more like an intentional act of fraud against the Nigerian state, considering that it did not pass through the proper process for contracts of that magnitude.
“Nigerians are aware that the contract was sealed by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in January 2017 when the then President Umaru Yar’Adua was incapacitated, and there are suggestions that the signature of the former Minister, Dr Rilwan Lukman might even have been forged by some yet to be identified unknown state actors to commit the country to the deal.
“This was without recourse to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) because of the nature of the contract and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which is the highest decision making body in the land. Besides, the company seems like a portfolio firm incorporated in 2006 to secure the contract with Nigeria.
“So just as the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has said, there are sufficient and strong grounds for a successful appeal or an alternative resolution of a judgement that is 20% of Nigeria’s foreign reserves.
“We clearly cannot imagine the implication of a seizure of Nigeria’s oil cargoes, just like the hedge fund company that bought a stake in P&ID did to Argentina and Venezuela.
“This would certainly have an adverse effect on the economy and lead to problems that could impact negatively on the rest of Africa, if not the whole world,” BMO added.
The group also dismissed claims, mainly by representatives of P&ID, that negligence by the Buhari administration and a refusal by the government to enter an appeal for over five years worsened the situation.
“This narrative has for several weeks been the dominant one in the public space and has been further pushed by anti-government elements to paint President Muhammadu Buhari in a bad light.
“It is good that the Federal Government has now released a fact sheet showing the timelines from 2010 when the contract was signed to 2016 when the Attorney General of the Federation took over the case, as well as efforts by even the President to address the judgement debt.
“What this proves is that the Buhari administration never slept on Nigeria’s rights as many people are being led to believe by the company and its local collaborators bent on stampeding the country into negotiations.
“We are however hopeful that the government would take all necessary steps to act in the best interest of all Nigerians, rather than plunge the country into economic woes.”
BMO also urged the Federal Government to ensure a holistic investigation of the project which many Nigerians are convinced was designed to fail from the outset and bring the full force of the law to bear on identified culprits