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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Deja vu: Again, Nigeria’s presidency caught in another web of lies over claims of $600m investment

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It is the second time within six weeks that presidency officials have been caught allegedly lying over economic concessions with foreign entities that never were.

Tinubu & Maersk officials in Riyadh

Early March, the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, was made to recant after it emerged that the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) did not lift a 19 months old visa ban on Nigerians and citizens of 19 other African countries, as claimed by the Presidency.

Though no statement has been issued on the present blunder where Maersk, a Danish company, was said to have agreed on a $600m investment in Nigeria after a meeting by its head with President Bola Tinubu; Mr. Onanuga, who was in the centre of the first lying episode, has pulled down his statement that is said to be embarrassing the seat of power

In a report that exposed the lie on the investment, Lloydslist.com said Nigerian president Bola Tinubu claims to have secured an investment of $600m from Danish shipping and logistics giant Maersk, was news to the company.

The story reads: “A $600m investment into Nigeria’s port sector from Maersk, announced personally by the West African state’s president Bola Tinubu on Sunday, appears to be less solid than the government initially claimed.

“Despite a presidential statement from Tinubu detailing how he had secured the purported investment during a World Economic Forum meeting in Riyadh over the weekend, Maersk officials have confirmed that no such agreement is in place and no deals have been signed.

“The Nigerian government statement detailed how A.P Moller-Maersk chairman Robert Maersk Uggla had discussed the investment with president Tinubu on the sidelines of a meeting discussing energy development and growth. The statement even included a direct quote attributed to Uggla saying: “We believe in Nigeria, and we will invest $600 million in existing facilities and make the ports accommodating for bigger ships”.

“But according to Maersk, that deal does not exist.

“Company officials said while Uggla did meet the president, no such deal had been signed.

““Maersk has been present in Nigeria for 35 years and, as a global provider of logistics services, we remain committed to develop opportunities for growth to people, the port sector and businesses locally,” the company said in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

““Therefore, it is natural to have an ongoing dialogue with the administration. However, we are not able to comment on any investment talks.”

“Maersk is due to report first-quarter results on Thursday, meaning that management are in a regulatory quiet period limiting what they can say publicly about the company’s activities.

“Nigeria has promised to revamp its ports, including in the commercial capital Lagos, to ease congestion.

“Tinubu’s statement explained that his government would support the modernisation and automation of its ports to improve trade, reduce corruption and boost efficiency. He claimed that the purported Maersk investment would “complement the administration’s ongoing $1bn investment in seaport reconstruction across the eastern and western seaports of Nigeria”.

““A bet on Nigeria is a winning bet. It is also a bet that rewards beyond what is obtainable elsewhere,” he said. “We need to encourage more opportunities for revenue expansion and minimise trans-shipments from larger ships to smaller ships.””

● Additional report by Lloydslist.com

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