AMAKPE REFINERY AND THE MISGUIDED PROPHETS OF DOOM

4 Sep

Written By
Dr Inyang Oduok

Opponents of Amakpe refineries are on the pew. Barely a few minutes after Amakpe’s press release, they rocketed into prominence with misguided skepticism -sounding like prophets of doom. With no known prior record of ownership of a refinery business to their credit, they argue erroneously that “the press release confirms all what Governor Akpabio has been saying.” Then a few seconds later came up with “90% “revised version.

They showered the Ikpes’ with praises and Usua with good citizenry then recklessly turned to set Amakpe refinery ablaze.

Their ire argument reached a peak when they argued that “refinery industry is not a good business.”

They blamed the “inflated hopes of Akwaibomites, Amakpe’s lack of funds or financial viability or its fragility as the key elements in its painful path and not Akpabio administration’s actions.”

Amakpe refineries they argue, is “bad business venture for the state, bad investment decision, it won’t work. To show you why it won’t work, just look at other governments that have refineries. Start off with China. If you still don’t believe the prophet, look at the refinery in Russia and even in Kaduna. Now with these examples, would you say it is a good idea to invest in Amakpe refineries? “Obviously not, do not let Amakpe fool you believe in the prophet.”

Amakpe “should recapitalize with its private funds instead of public funds and refund 3.5 million dollars to Akpabio administration in compliance with the memorandum of understanding. Akpabio’s government should be bought out of the transaction as evidence of Amakpe’s financial capabilities, after all the refinery its baby.”

Instead of helping Amakpe succeed, it is better to promote street warfare and invest in building penitentiaries to prepare our young men and women for prison life. They should rather be in prison than in society. Then broaden Attah’s legacy –The only success story -the Five Star hotel and ready the call girls for prostitution in another grand entertainment industry.

Unable to recap all what Akpabio said at the town hall meeting that is consistent with Amakpe’s press release, the prophets harped on what they claim was not said “fraud” while with the same breath arguing improprieties that Akpabio allegedly suggested in his town hall speech which clearly shows that Akpabio’s allegation against Amakpe is akin to “fraud.”

As implausible as it may seem, it may be argued that opponents of Amakpe have real problems, here is why.

“THE CLAIM THAT AMAKPE REFINERY IS NOT A GOOD BUSINESS:”

The onus of proof lies on the prophets to show that investment in refinery or petroleum industry is not a good business. They have failed woefully to sustain that burden.

First, it is undisputed that prosperity and geopolitical clout comes with oil wealth. Look at United States, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, Dubai and Venezuela to mention a few. Do these countries not have refineries? If they do as we all know, how many of them have failed the forum citizens might ask? If none, why are forum citizens not cited to these successfully operated refineries?

CHINA:

In 2005, C.nooc, a large Chinese oil company tried to buy the California oil company Unocal. The transaction fell apart after members of Congress criticized the potential Chinese ownership of American oil assets. Two privately owned Chinese refineries are currently operating in two states in United States. There may be more that the writer does not know about. That forumites here and there are cited to an alleged ailing refinery in China and not about successful ones is illuminating.

RUSSIA:
Exxon the largest American oil company “has just won a contract with Russian Government’s owned oil Company – Rosneft to give Rosneft assets elsewhere in the world including some that Exxon owns in deep water zones in the Gulf of Mexico and on land in Texas for an investment in oil exploration in the Russian Arctic.” The scale of investment is reported to be as high as “five hundred billion dollars.” “The investment means that Exxon is taking the risk like all businesses do in wading deeper into Russia’s risky business environment. The investment will hinge on policies set by Kremlin.” “Exxon already has a production sharing investment agreement on Sakhalin Island on Russia’s Eastern Coast.”

“Having an American company win the Russian oil exploration contract suggests United States policy of détente toward Russia known as reset can benefit United States businesses,” said Cliff Kupchan- a consultant and senior analyst at the Eurasia Group.

It is reported that the “Exxon –Rosneft transaction when completed, will allow Russia access to reserves at home to gain the necessary capital and technological expertise. Russia’s economy is dependent on petroleum for about 60% of its export revenue. Russia now pumps more oil than Saudi Arabia.”

“The Russian Oil Company (Rosnefts’s attempt to enter into similar agreement with BP failed because BP had a joint venture with a separate group of private Russian investors, who blocked the agreement by suing BP.”

All what these examples demonstrate people are:

* In business as in real life one must be curious, experiment and take risks.

* In law we also retain those who argue our frailties.

* Prosperity and Geo-political clout comes with oil wealth and Gov. Akpabio might be afraid of Amakpe’s success in the state that is why he is trying to block the refinery.

* Usua’s 12.5 million dollars asset is a legitimate investment capital and that attempt to make it appear that “Usua did not have money to start a refinery but came and misrepresented to ex-governor Attah that he had investor’s who were willing to come up with 250 million dollars.” is nonsense.

* Failure to cite a single successfully operated refinery around the globe and using a tiny fraction of refinery that is “claimed not to do too well in China and Russia and more alarmingly Kaduna” is “illuminating.”

* Failure to address why “a government would invest 6.5 million dollars in an allegedly failed refinery venture is also quite illuminating

* Failure to acknowledge that Usua Amanam and the late Dr Nsidibe Ikpe are big success stories in entrepreneurship and can make sound investment decisions is also illuminating. They do not need the prophet’s unsolicited advice.

“ALL WHAT THE PROHET CAN SUMMISE IS THAT IT APPEARS THAT COMPLIANCE WITH MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING HAS NOT BEEN MET.”

That Government breached its investment agreement with Amakpe is undisputed. For example, it pressured Amakpe through the use of law suit to refund 3 million dollars to it. 1.5 million now and additional 2 million upon entering into production after Amakpe had spent millions of dollars of its own money and that of investors to build the projects’ infrastructures to be shipped to the refinery site.

Thus, the so called “memorandum of understanding is void” because it is an attempt to modify a pre-existing contract with no showing of adequate consideration for such modification. Amakpe would never have entered into such agreement if it were not under government duress.

“Instead of helping Amakpe succeed, it is better to promote street warfare and invest in building penitentiaries to prepare our young men and women for prison life. They should rather be in prison than in society. Then broaden Attah’s legacy –The only success story -the Five Star hotel and ready the call girls for prostitution in another grand entertainment industry.”

The payment of 1.2 million dollars to Akpabio when the company is in need of 20 million financing shows that the motive of the law suit was to force Amakpe to enter into illegal unenforceable contract with government. It was a form of extortion. Therefore, the so called “memorandum of understanding” is void as a matter of law.

How about the 1.5 million already refunded, what happened to that money remains questionable?

Lastly, even if it were to be determined that the so called “memorandum of understanding is valid which is here denied,” it would still not entitle Akpabio administration to the additional two million “refund” because of failure of condition president to payment.” From the release, it appears that the remaining 2 million dollars was to be paid after Amakpe has gone into production the occurrence of which condition has been prevented or obstructed by Akpabio’s actions. Therefore, Amakpe’s performance is excused by prevention/obstructive acts of Akpabio administration.
That an investor who has invested 10 million dollars in a business would go back and ask for a refund of 3 million when the business requires 20 million to take off is telling.

“USUA DID NOT SAY IN THE RELEASE THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD ASK OUT OF THE DEAL AND THAT ITSELF IS ILLUMINATING”

Should Usua be the one to “ask government to ask out of the deal”? First of all, Usua should not ask the government to breach a contract he has with Amakpe by “asking it to ask out.” That would not make sense under contract law. Also, Government is not asking out of the deal because it knows that to do so would constitute breach of its agreement with Amakpe.

Moreover, why should Amakpe “buy the government out”? Should’t it be the government that should “buy Amakpe out since it claims that Amakpe has no money and that it is the sole financier of the business” despite the 12.1 million of Amakpe’s equity in the business?

THE HONEY VERSUS VINGAR ARGUMENT:

The argument that Amakpe used “vinegar instead of honey” caps it all and is very illuminating. It may be this is Amakpe’s whole problem.” The writer reasonably believes that Akpabio administration may not have endorsed this argument on its behalf. Here is why.

USE OF “HONEY” AS OPPOSED TO “VINEGAR”:

The writer is willing to concede that the prophet does not mean “greasing hand” or “bribing governor Akpabio”

However, the prophet’s argument has vexatious quotient prompted by incongruity and inconsistencies of his own jurisprudence. Therefore, they do not play well among intelligent audience. There is no question that every thing the dooms day prophets argue are in furtherance of damaging Amakpe refinery and this has earned them a prominent place in Amakpe’s controversy.

They feed into the forum facts that are inaccurate, incomplete and misleading. The noble intention of building a refinery that will create employment opportunities for our people and give birth to other industries have been subverted by a claim of “Amakpe’s indulgence in improprieties” to tarnish the founders’ reputation.

The writer contends that it is not the duty of forums citizens to puzzle out the meaning and relevance of words used by the prophets. Undefined words such as “honey” will be construed against the prophets. The term “honey” is susceptible to different interpretations. “Honey” can mean “greasing of hand.” It can mean being “less arrogant and pompous”. It can mean being “nice”, it can also mean “bribing” etc.

But in our society the word “honey” can easily be interpreted as meaning “greasing of hand or bribing”. Therefore, the argument does not help government’s cause in a system where “corrupt practices are allegedly frequently employed as a way of doing business.”

Adversaries of Amakpe refinery are advised to shade their distrust for Usua Amanam, build a good relationship with the company and bridge their differences with dialogue in the interest of our people.

Dr. Oduok writes from
Atlanta, Georgia.

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