Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos returned to Nigeria Wednesday morning after spending days partying in the Caribbean Island of Grenada in commemoration of the 50th birthday anniversary of Abuja-based businesswoman and socialite, Aisha Achimugu.
Mr Sanwo-Olu flew in a private aircraft to the Carribean Island, and took residency in one of the most expensive resorts in the world.
Many officials of his government did not know his whereabouts for days, with some saying he was attending an official engagement in London and others simply telling us he was travelling abroad.
But PREMIUM TIMES can report that while the Mandilas building burned in Lagos on 21 January and many Lagosians remained overburdened by poverty and insecurity, their governor was reveling at a party at Calivigny Island, an 80-acre private and exquisite location which costs about $132,000 per night.
Those familiar with the event said organisers rented the Island for seven days, amounting to about $924,000 in total, in addition to other charges.
Mr Sanwo-Olu and other participants alternated between Calivigny Island and Silversand Grenada, an exotic five-year-old seven-star luxury resort located in Grand Anse beach, where some events of the posh celebration were held.
Those familiar with the governor’s itinerary said he left Nigeria on Wednesday, 17 January for Mrs Achimugu’s birthday carnival which began with “a scrumptious welcome breakfast” and “a spectacular dinner with an explosive finish” that day. Other guests had arrived in Grenada on 16 January.
But Mr Sanwo-Olu was only able to join the party on 18 January, the third day of the festivity. He remained there till 23 January, leaving his state without his leadership for days.
It remains unclear as of the time of this report why the governor left his duty post in Lagos, flew 7,585 kilometres to Grenada for a birthday party, at a time the people who elected him to office were grappling with severe and unprecedented economic hardship. Another yet unresolved question is how the governor funded his trip and stay in that Caribbean Island.
Mr Sanwo-Olu did not answer calls made to him by one of our reporters seeking his comments for this report. He also did not respond to a message sent to him on the matter. The known telephone number of the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, rang out the multiple times he was called.
MR SANWO-OLU AND THE SHUTTING DOWN OF GRENADA
Born 22 January, 1974, Aisha Achimugu, founder and managing director of Abuja-based Felak Concept Group, turned 50 on 22 January. The relationship between the socialite and Mr Sanwo-Olu remained unclear but the governor was at the party to honour her.
Some of those who attended said it was one of the most opulent parties they have ever witnessed or heard about. The celebrant rented the Calivigny Island for one week and reserved rooms for her guests at Silversand Grenada. Several guests were also said to have been flown from Nigeria to the party location by chartered jets.
During the week-long party, Mrs Achimugu, a widow who lost her husband to Coronavirus in 2020, is said to have changed clothes at least 30 times, with each dress said to cost thousands of dollars. Those are in addition to the high-end clothes she used for a photoshoot with a celebrity photographer ahead of her event.
For most of the time, she was decked in very expensive diamond jewelry, wore designer shoes and carried Hermes crocodile-leather handbags, each said to cost between $50,000 and $80,000. One of the numerous parties took place aboard the Silver Angel, a Yacht sailing on the Caribbean sea under the flag of the United Kingdom.
In addition, a number of local and international A-list musicians and entertainers flew in to perform at the various events. Those who performed include Kenny G (American saxophonist and composer), Waje, Flavour, Adekunle Gold, Asake and Mr Killa (a Grenada musician).
“We basically shut down Grenada and the citizens of that country knew that Nigerians were in town, they knew the eagles had landed,” the source said, asking not to be named to avoid being ostracised by friends.
“But what even surprised me the most was seeing Governor Sanwo-Olu at the event. Is he not sensitive to the mood of the Nigerian nation? What was he doing there as a public figure?”
Order CBN to honour Letters of Credit– SINET to Tinubu, NASS
Amidst several hardships facing the Nigerian populace, the Social Integrity Network, (SINET) has urged President Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the leadership of national assembly to compel the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.
The group also urged the Federal Government to make further clarification concerning a statement credited to the CBN Governor on issues regarding the alleged and well-publicized revelations of a $2.4 billion forex trading fraud.
SINET recalled that “On February 5, 2024, the governor of CBN made this declaration in both his interactions with Senate committees and his interview on a national television, following the engagement of Deloitte Management Consultant to conduct a forensic investigation where he claimed that the said amount was uncovered.
A statement issued on Monday by SINET national coordinator, Ibrahim Issah, disclosed that “On the contrary, we wish to unequivocally state that these claims lack merit and do not take into account the consequences they will have on businesses, public perception, or the economy of our cherished nation and its implication on forex both at home and abroad.”
According to him, “Without sentiment, the claim is completely falsehood and unacceptable as he, the CBN governor, failed to consider its economic implications. It is pertinent to state that genuine businessmen and women across the country, borrowed Funds from commercial banks, some with interest rates as high as 30% to secure forex from the CBN through their respective commercial banks since CBN does not sell the dollars to individuals directly.
“The same funds have been deposited with CBN for the past one and half years for forwards allocated for which the Apex Bank is now claiming were fraudulent transactions. May we remind Mr. Governor that while the CBN allocated the forwards after collecting the naira for each forward allocated, the commercial banks used these same forward contracts as a hedge and issued Letters of Credit (LCs) to their various customers against their offshore credit lines and also as a sovereign guarantee to their offshore banks which stand unpaid till today as a result of the failure of CBN to honour the various forward contracts.
“May we also remind our CBN Governor that as a result of their failure to honour these contracts, the outstanding foreign loans continue to accrue interest (post-negotiation charges), which the commercial Banks are passing to their customers: the same customers you say do not have a genuine claim.”
The statement further stressed that, “The public would like to ask Mr. Governor the following questions: What will happen to the foreign bank that is expecting their payment to be paid back? What will happen to the businessmen and women who had borrowed Naira from commercial Banks and paid the same into the CBN account for the purchase of forex for over eighteen months? Who will bear the interest charged on borrowed funds locally? Who will bear the charges running against the offshore lines used in establishing Letters of Credit? What will happen to the businesses? What will happen to the employees that are dependent on the survival of the businesses that CBN is trying to kill?
“We call upon the senate president and, in fact, the president and Commander In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to call the CBN governor to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.
“Let us state categorically that the CBN is killing businesses by cancelling the forward contracts that were sold to them about 18 months ago at the rate of N450/dollar and now selling the same funds to the commercial banks and directing the bank to sell the money at the rate of 1,500/dollar to the same businesses who initially had a forward contract at the rate of N450/dollar.
“May we also remind Mr. Governor, that failure to honour these forward contracts is taking commercial banks longer time to clean the offshore lines already used for establishing Letters of Credit against which shipments have been done and payment made to LC beneficiaries by the offshore banks. The delays of the commercial banks to settle their Forex obligations to their offshore banks is making our country risk to be very high.
“Lastly, the public will like to call on the coordinating minister for the economy, Mr. Wale Edun to engage the CBN regarding this issue of undelivered forward contracts because at present in Nigeria, almost 60% of companies in the manufacturing sector have been closed due to the volatility of Forex in Nigeria in order to avoid the other 40% from also closing down.
“This will go a long way to help the few remaining manufacturing companies still in operation in Nigeria and also encourage the new investors that the president and commander in-chief of the federal republic is trying woo to bring their investments to Nigeria.”
Senate Passes Sen Ashiru’s Bill To Establish National Road Transport Council
The Senate on Tuesday granted first reading to a bill seeking to establish a National Road Transport Council which is to be saddled with the responsibility of regulating the road transport industry and the transport profession in Nigeria.
The bill titled National Road Transportation Council (Establishment) Bill 2024 is sponsored by Deputy Senate Leader Senator Oyelola Ashiru and was introduced to the Senate plenary after the Senators resumed from their 30 day recess.
Further details of the bill fronted by the Kwara South Senator reveals that if signed into law a council board will be established which shall consist of a Board chairman and six members drafted from each geo-political zone of the country.
More insights of the bill sighted by the Sun also states that the board shall be presided by a representative from Ministries of transport, commerce and industry and aviation and they shall not be below the rank of a Director.
As highlighted in the explanatory memorandum of the bill , [b]the functions of the proposed council include; creating an effective regulatory framework on road transport service operators; determining the standard of knowledge and skills required for road transport service operators; encouraging the advancement of education in road transportation; ensuring accessibility of road transport facilities, [/b]channels, and routes; monitoring the performance of the regulated road transport industry; conducting background check on road transport service operators; registering all road transport service providers and determine the fees for such registration; setting guidelines and general policies for road transport service operators; updating the Federal Government on its activities and progress through annual and audited reports; reviewing progress and suggest improvement within the provisions of this Bill and do such other things as are necessary or incidental to the objects of the Council under this Bill or as may be assigned by the Federal Government.
The bill received the nod of the Senators via voice votes presided by the Senate President Godswill Akpabio shortly after it was introduced to the floor of the Red Chambers by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.