Pinnacle Oil and Gas: Propaganda is Free, But Facts are Sacred

By Uche Anichukwu

I have read the rejoinder to my piece “Pinnacle Oil and Gas: the Limits of Propaganda”, which was my counter-narrative on the propaganda dished out to Ndi Enugu on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Dr. Peter Mbah and Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd. E dey sweet me no be small because the writer was honest enough to admit that I am a principled and “decent man”. Forget the fact that he/she claimed that I lied in my account of Dr. Mbah and Pinnacle’s road to success. You can’t describe me as a decent man in one breath and claim that I lie for politicians in the same breath – unless, of course Mkpuru Mmiri was at work in the head of the author of the rejoinder. A good tree can’t bear a bad fruit and vice versa. In any case, okwu bu uzo erugo be Chukwu. So, for the true confession, I say “Thank you, don’t mention”.

But I am even happier because the rejoinder failed to contradict me fact for fact. It is just the same emotional outbursts of a drowning opposition. I wrote that Dr. Mbah joined the business world at a very tender age; that he had already registered businesses such as Peter Mbah Investment Company and was importing 18 containers of electronics and spare parts in a month way back in the late 1980s and early 1990s; and that he set up “FOCUS International School in Lagos that same period. I expected the said rejoinder to counter me with the results of a company search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), etc. Yes, I maintain that Mbah built his first house in Lagos by 1992. Have you gone to the Lagos State land registry and found that to be false?

Furthermore, I said that Mbah registered Pinnacle Oil and Gas in 2004, not 2007 or 2008, as propagandists want Ndi Enugu to believe. And it was between the time he exited office as Chief of Staff and the time he reluctantly accepted the position of Commissioner for Finance.

I also wrote that Pinnacle started with a capital base of N1 million. Did a CAC search show any information to the contrary? Yes, I wrote that the company started with just two staff in a one-room apartment in Lagos. Please, prove me wrong, I will humbly concede.

As I said, ideas rule the world and businesses thrive on innovation. As I wrote, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple in the garage in Cupertino, California; HP brand started off in a 12-by-18-foot garage with just $538 investment in California; began from a garage in Seattle, USA; Larry Page and Sergey Brin rented Susan Wojcicki’s 1,900-square-foot home in the course of Google’s journey to corporate giant; Walt Disney started from a garage belonging to Walt’s uncle, Robert Disney. These businesses have now become multi-trillion and multi-billion dollar businesses. If Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Hewlett, David Packard, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, among others, didn’t rob the US Federal Reserve to become big, what makes you think that a Nigerian entrepreneur must steal from public treasury to grow big? How many former this and former that have built something like Pinnacle?

Even here in Nigeria, Africa’s richest man explained that he was obsessed with business right from primary school. He stated: “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets (candies) and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.”

Going into business proper at 21 after his college education, Dangote took a loan of N500,000 from his uncle. See where he is today.

Or have we forgotten how Cosmas Maduka (Coscharis) moved from an underaged apprentice to a multi-billionaire?

You claimed that Pinnacle’s $1 billion offshore, subsea petroleum products terminal was “Ego Ndi Enugu”. But I provided the names of the banks that funded it: First Bank, Fidelity Bank, Globus Bank and Coronation Bank. But it is convenient for you to fault my facts without providing any facts to the contrary.

If Pinnacle is about “Ego Ndi Enugu”, how come the company overtook the major oil marketing companies to become the number one? Or are you saying that Enugu State’s allocations, even for 10 years, outweigh the finances and credit-worthiness of these oil majors?

Did you also investigate and found out that KPMG, a foremost international audit firm, is not the auditor of Pinnacle Oil and Gas accounts? That one alone is a stamp of integrity and good governance of the company. Abi KPMG na your mate?

On the EFCC matter, the writer has still not shown any facts to contradict my position that Dr. Peter Mbah was never a subject of any EFCC investigation and that he was never charged to court, let alone enter into any plea bargain with the Nigerian government. His name was equally not mentioned in the petition. He went to the EFCC on his own based on personal principle and philosophy as a member of that administration. And his issues with the EFCC was more as a placeholder in the sense that once the then governor concluded his tenure, Mbah’s name and the names of two others were struck out of the EFCC charge sheet. So, as I stated, Mbah was never charged or arraigned by the EFCC. And of course, the phantom plea bargain exists only in the imagination of those chefs serving in opposition’s propaganda kitchen. These things can be verified at the EFCC or the Federal High Court registry.

But come to think of it, if you claim that a co-contestant has a criminal record, yet you prefer to patronise the social media space instead of heading to the courts to stop him, what shall we call you?

Meanwhile, as for Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s assets issues, I won’t waste my time on it since it is subjudice, except to state that I don’t know any Nigerian law that bars a political office holder from owning properties. The law only says that you must declare them to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) every four years and I have been consistent in my statement right from 2016 that he declared all of them to the CCB. I don’t know anybody who declares illegally acquired assets to the government. Of course, I also clarified that the list, which, by the way, was first released by the Obono-Obla panel in 2016, was garnished to achieve the purpose of media trial at the time.

In any case, the matter is still in court and I wouldn’t know from whence you draw this your air of finality or why you think that an interim asset forfeiture order, which is still being contested in court for clear violation of fundamental principles of justice is tantamount to “stolen houses”. Besides, the fact that the EFCC did not link Ekweremadu with any missing public funds let alone charge him to court all these years he was in Nigeria says alot. If you sincerely believe that shaving a man in his absence, pouncing on a man while he is in detention and undergoing trial (not for corruption) is in order, then I leave you to your conscience. But rest assured that what goes around comes around and that the measure you give is the measure you receive.

All said, when people sidestep the message and begin to attack the messenger, it means that the message hit the right target and those it was directed at have no sensible answer to it. But attack the messenger all you want, it will still not change anything because propaganda is cheap (especially when your candidate has no manifesto or pedigree to market to the electorate). Comment is also free. But facts are sacred and stubborn. So, on my facts I stand.Ka Chineke mezie okwu.

Anichukwu is Deputy Director, Mainstream Media, Enugu PDP Campaign Council.

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