Written By Dr. Tom Mbeke-Ekanem, REA
After reading the recent Press Release by Chief Usua Amanam, I couldn\’t help but feel for him and Mrs. Nsidibe Ikpe, the two Amakpe principals. Thanks goodness that he chose to take the high road rather than descend to the level of Gov. Godswill Akpabio even after he characterized Amakpe project as fraud. With this Gov. Akpabio, once again, crossed the line with his unguarded utterances.
When the refinery was conceived, Akwa Ibom State government under Gov. Attah invested $10 million for 25% ownership.
In the waning days of the previous administration a lawsuit was filed by the state government demanding the withdrawal of its 25% equity from Amakpe investment.
In March 2007, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) canceled all the refinery licenses it issued to prospective refineries in Nigeria including Amakpe.
Following re-instatement, DPR in July 2007 issued a Refinery Construction License to Amakpe Refinery.
Later in July 2007, U.S. Ex-Im Bank approved a Comprehensive Loan Guarantee to finance major components of U.S. and Nigerian costs for the construction of Phase 1 – 6,000BPD of the 12,000BPD.
In August 2007, construction at the refinery project site at Ikot Usekong in Eket commenced.
FOUNDATION LAYING CEREMONY:
Date for foundation laying ceremony, October 27, 2007, was fixed, agreed and approved by AKIIPOC, agency representing the government as equity partner in Amakpe Board of Trustee.
The then Vice President, HE Goodluck Jonathan was to be the Guest of Honor while Gov. Akpabio was the Chief Host.
To the chagrin and consternation of Akwa Ibom State citizens and those who traveled all the way from United States, Gov. Akpabio abruptly blocked the ceremony from taking place. He claimed he was not notified of the ceremony! How could this be when the very date was selected and agreed by the AKIIPOC representatives?
No expression or words were adequate to describe the feelings. Disappointment and embarrassment caused the U.S. delegation, representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Lagos and the invited guests, local and foreign by this singular act of Akwa Ibom government spoke volume.
To move the project forward, intervention of the presidency was sought and this led to the issuance of the MOU. Gov. Akpabio motive was still shrouded in secrecy. His attitude and posture towards Amakpe changed for the worse. As a condition for signing the MOU and to further drive Amakpe aground Gov. Akpabio coerced and reduced government investment in the project to $6.5 million from the initial $10 million and still insisted on keeping the 25% share.
THE SABOTAGE OF AMAKPE REFINERY
In spite of being the second largest share holder, Gov. Akpabio became more belligerent and all cooperation for the advancement and development of the refinery project was thrown out of the window.
The sum of $20,792,308 is now the required amount to complete full implementation of the refinery project. If the AKwa Ibom State Government is still holding on to its 25%, it would be a matter of common sense for it to also contribute equitably to the estimated additional cost of about $21 million needed for the completion of the project.
To reassure the state of the progress, a visit to Ventech corporation at Pasadena, Texas where the fabricated equipment are still lying in wait was arranged by Amakpe. At the very last minute of the visit in Houston Gov. Akpabio pulled another fast one on Amakpe. He failed to show up even though he was in Houston. Only his selected staff visited the site (http://www.amakperefineries.com/index.php/refinery.html).
In view of the uncooperative posture exhibited by Gov. Akpabio, Amakpe principals decided to approach banks for the additional loan estimated at about $21 million. Not only did Gov. Akpabio refuse to deal with the banks, it threatened to revoke the certificate of occupancy (COO) issued to Amakpe should any bank went ahead with the deal. Isn’t this a clear case of sabotage?
It is also on record and has just been confirmed by Gov. Akpabio himself that Delta state government was approached by Amakpe Refinery on top of what Akwa Ibom government put down in the project.
This was to be followed with this statement by Gov. Akpabio, “Next I saw Governor (Emmanuel Uduaghan (of Delta State)) with a team with people from DESOPADEC came to Akwa Ibom. They said they wanted to come and look at our refinery but I told them it was an empty field. I told them don\’t bother yourselves…it was complete fraud”. With such disheartening and uncharitable utterances by Gov. Akpabio, no one should be in doubt as to the real motive.
Is Amakpe refinery a fraud!!! When did Gov. Akpabio realize that Amakpe is a fraud? Could it be when he shut down the groundbreaking ceremony? Or is it after the signing of MOU? Is this why he decided to reduce government\’s contribution from $10 million to $6.5 million while maintaining the same 25% shares? If this was the case, why didn\’t he just reduce it to zero instead? Is this why Amakpe project is now characterized as fraud because $2.5 million has not been refunded? By the quoted statement above, is Gov. Akpabio not implying that late Dr. Nsidibe Ikpe and Chief Usua Amanam are fraudulent individuals?
AMAKPE REFINERY – A VICTIM OF SECOND TERM?
Perhaps what the principals of Amakpe would not confirm or deny is the fact that Gov. Akpabio’s re-election weighed in heavily on the fate of Amakpe. A successful Amakpe operation was seen as a financial power-house that could pose a serious threat to Gov. Akpabio’s re-election. The treatment meted to Amakpe refinery is a part of the kidnapping and assassination schemes that took over the state the past four years!
According to Christopher Ekpoudom’s posting on Ibom forum on August 27, 2011, “…the current administration is willing to work with any investor who can show by words, actions, deeds, boots on ground, and evidence on site that it is a viable venture. That Amakpe Refinery must meet these requirements for continuous governmental support, otherwise the Government will seek full refund for money already invested.”
Really? How long is Gov. Akpabio going to deceive Akwa Ibom citizens on this Amakpe issue? Gov. Akpabio is aware that for the project to commence, Amakpe needs about $21 million. Completed fabricated equipment is lying in wait in Pasadena, Houston yard. This is official sabotage of project that would’ve put food on the table for thousands of Akwa Ibomites and other Nigerians. If this is not sabotage, why did Gov. Akpabio block Amakpe principals from raising funds from banks to commence the project? If this is not sabotage, why did he inform Delta State government that Amakpe is a fraud in an attempt to drive them away?
How can Amakpe continue on the project when all the funding sources approached such as those mentioned above are blocked by Gov. Akpabio?
Government, through Gov. Akpabio should come up with its fair share, rather than using the $2.5 million as reason which in itself is a ruse to kill Amakpe without caring about the $6.5 million the AKSG has put in it. The other option the state can readily use is to sell its shares and get back its money. Until Gov. Akpabio takes steps to undo the damages done already, Amakpe refinery is his albatross that stands to define his administration.
Dr. Tom Mbeke-Ekanem, REA