They came, they saw, they created impressions… Gossips from the recent Investment Conference


With Dare Lasisi, London


In Government, insiders know their follies! Can you believe that a lot is happening behind our government closed doors as we all watch our vulnerability with quipped lips?. Imagine the frustration expressed recently by Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi while in London, picking holes in President Goodluck Jonathan’s choice of a national security adviser!.

The Apex Bank supremo during his recent visit with other top-shots to carouse for investors for our economically drifting nation was overheard as he shook his head in consternation asking a fellow bewildered colleague:”   How can President Jonathan choose a criminal as a national security adviser. What do you expect from a guy( name withdrawn),  indicted for oil bunkering and economic sabotage. How can the President appoint such  as our national security adviser. Where is Nigeria going?”

His further worries?  He believes the President’s choice puts him on the hole-pipe of a rocket launcher. Ouch! Think the president should have known better,  but in politics, love can be as blind loyalty knows no boundary as it carries the risk of a blind eye to realities.

It shows that behind the flashing smiles of our serving government officials are sorrows, regrets and reservations which cannot be expressed openly because of oaths of allegiance and vows made to remain loyal to political boss, but at what price for the boss and our entire nation? No be me talk am o!

Femi Otedola’s biggest headache? Impunity in corruption !

Mr.Femi Otedola! Remember the oil magnate and super business guru who  recently turned a nation’s best asset in corruption fight and security research? He is still in shock . Don’t ask me why. Remember how he helped  identifying one of our nation’s corrupt ‘legislootive’ parliamentarian sometimes ago? Well he is agonizing seriously that our nation is a nation  full of hypocrites and liars, especially in high places of position. He is writing-off the nation’s dream of stamping corruption.   His recent experience with our pantomine legislooters,  killing a clear case of  ‘thief-ry ‘ by style continues to give him a nightmare and mental agony as he was overheard during his recent visit, rubbishing the nation’s approach to our  rule of law. He was at a chat with a friend journalist who had asked him his next step after his recent attempt was given a shrug-off and an attending delay tactics. His  experience since the case is being gradually killed  according to a top aide leaves him with a lost hope for corruption. He looked  a bit stressed-up during his recent London visit for investment stride by the government. Hear him as he retorted to a question from a  journalist with whom he was, passing through a corridor:’You mean that Farouk of a  guy in the national assembly’?. He hissed and just parried the question posed by the journalist.  His reaction put Farouk at edge as a potential nation sell-out whom he would not want to discuss. Mr Otedola demonstrated the maturity of a real man who can stand up to any attempt to destroy his image, remaining a man of great influence.

*Still on wonder-boy-man Otedola ! The business mogul demonstrated his nature as a magnanimous person when on the second day of the conference he stretched his hand to give a lift to the richest man in Africa, Alhaji Aliko Dangote. Late in the evening of the second day of the  investment carousing event, the Epe, Lagos State-born  lad showed his generousity, sharing his stretch Limousine-shaped  Rolls Royce  with  his money-mate Aliko engaging him in tet-a-tet mouth-to-hear whisper.  Asking why Aliko didn’t get his own car? Dont ask me!. Aliko is his own man and must be feeling too lonely and itching to share not just the car but a business idea with Femi. No wonder they say big fish follow big fish inside  the river. Oh money is good!

More, can you believe that Ote-Dollar’s Rolls Rolls had a personalised plate number( ‘3 FO‘), meaning the car could be number 3 in line in Queen’s land.

*Gov Peter Obi of  Anambra’s unsolicited hotel bluff.

Please don’t quote me. Anambra State governor, Peter Obi got more than he bargained from an hotel staff in London. As the saying goes in my native Yoruba adage:  “The nightfall pits  know no gentleman” , the governor who had come to the venue of the recently concluded Investment conference had been dealt a jaw-hit uppercut blow when an hotel staff cut in and disrupted a tv interview he was having: ” No you cant use that place”, the hotel staff  in an insulting tone.

For a moment, the  television reporter and the governor stood aghast, just as the Camera was set and he was in deep thought  to meditate over the questions likely to be responded to. He was well composed and handled the embarrassment with maturity and caution.  The  hotel security officers had broken the official protocol by disrupting the interview. He said the spot chosen by the tv crew was not ideal because of other hotel customers. Not even the whispered word that the interviewee was a governor and Nigerian Ambassador could pacify the lad who stood firm on his decision. Another top staff from the Nigeria High Commission came to resolve the matter but the Beckley Hotel’s security officer said journalists must comply with his instructions and the hotel safety law is no respecter of even her majesty the queen. Oh! after all this is England, where rule of law reigns and not the power of Dollar or pounds and no God fatherism in action. Pity the Governor had no choice than to postpone the interview to the following day.

How Alhaji Aliko Dangote politely responded to a white man’s follies and naivity…

The popular saying goes that silence is golden and that it is the best answer for a fool! It was a classic demonstration to this when Nigeria’s moneyman, Aliko Dangote gave it straight to a saucy Englishman who walked derisively and questioned: ‘You’re now a man of great influence in the Black Africa, eh? ‘Dangote smiled, shook his head and just walked away. The tall white man appeared to be requesting for some generous response  judging from his body language and as long as the tip ( don’t quote me) from Africa’s richest man was not forthcoming, he moved away in shame as Mr Money carried his small bag on his left hand, responding to gestures from all around and  shaking with interest the beckoning hands of some people. He later  rushed through the entrance of an hotel hall to attend the business forum meeting going on there. Dangote was full of  humility during the event and was a cynosure of many eyes. No bodyguards except one man that was always few steps away from him, perhaps his personal assistant! Oh! This is England!

Dr Segun Aganga, our Minister for Trade/Investments was a chitter -chatter.

Nigeria’s Trade and Investment Minister, Dr Segun Aganga would pass for the post of an Information Minister any day. This gentleman Minister was so passionate with his job that he was so hooked to his mobile phone chatting up throughout the conference first day. But it was obvious that he was picking up investors on phone  and  catching up with issues back home as relates to his high office.

He was also engaging so deeply with some surrounding foreigners with whom he was talking business at the hotel reception area. He was as simple as he looked and so determined to make his regime in the Ministry very productive. Some Nigerians were also discussing contracts and business opportunities with him and exchanging business cards and phone numbers. Segun  means business

Morning sickness?.. No! Just a bout of cold bug for Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Minister for Finance.

Our nation’s amiable Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okojo-Iweala stirred up speculations as the two day investment conference commenced in Beckley Hotel in Central London last week. She was visibly indisposed that many joked that maybe she swallowed a cockroach, a claim one member of the gathered four debunked, citing her age and  numerous national challenges. They laughed and laughed!

Anyway, jokes aside, the  international icon with a difference could not attend the second day event because of ill health.

A brownish-reddish spot was visible on her lower lip ( Not really a symptom of cockroach swallow but a real sign of overstretched-on- call of duties) just as she walked slowly into the Hotel Hall and not ready for any journalistic chit-chat that could add to her trauma.

A reliable source said she was ‘forced’ to attend the event being part of her area of functions. Later, on the first day, she was spotted at the reception area where she paid for her hotel bills in  dollars( Thought the conference organiser should have done this prior to the delegate arrival). Wait a minute; may be I am too nosy to be judgmental  She could be paying for additional overload at the hotel  or maybe for  an emergency  guest. Don’t ask me who because I said maybe! All I ‘giraffed’  to  know was her credit card twinkling as she offered to give it out, but resorted to dollars payment later. The hotel receptionist was overheard saying: ‘Madam, since you’re now ready to pay by cash,your money shall be returned to your credit card within few days.’ Thank God this is not Nigeria

No wonder why the American-trained Nigerian lady was tagged an un-official prime minister doing her things the Western way by herself.  Remember her real appellation in Aso Rock is ‘Madam Okonjo Wahala’. She would never take things for granted. Typically very official.

Oh! wait a minute!… Saw one of young Ibrus approaching Madam Ngozi.

Guardian publisher’s sons(Alex Ibru) came to greet Madam at the reception but she just responded as if she could not recognise him, maybe because of her state of health. The young Ibru man had came to introduce another lady to Madam Okonjo. He called the ‘Aunty’s name  Ngozi’. Don’t ask me why!

An I-Pad would have done the magic Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, Foreign Affairs Ministerign Affairs Minister.

Wonder if the respectable ambassador understands the danger of using a public computer network where journalists are doing their business? The career diplomat (or is he a  political appointee)  came to the hotel business center to fiddle with computers used by Nigerian journalists. Apparently, he popped in to send some urgent emails. But why can’t he come with his own ipad or laptop to send emails instead of disturbing journalists using the computer to write their stories… May be still learning the art of e-gadget  uses.

To be fair to the Minister, he was humble enough to have asked for a free computer to use. He did not exert his ‘power’ as a federal minister in Nigeria, avoiding his own people.

Chief Jim Ovia. Zenith bank CEO.

This celebrated banker appeared restless during the event. Always coming in and out of the main hall with his mobile phone glued to his right ear. He refused to take photos with unfamiliar faces and most people ignored him afterwards for his selective photo-taken sessions. He left the event in a Benz jeep packed in front of the hotel before the end of the first day. Somebody said he arrived with his private jet and he was on his way back to Nigeria. Just Wondering the number of Private owners in Nigeria of today!

Diaspora meeting or Investors forum?  

The last day of the  recent Investment  Conference was full of comics. Vice President Namadi Sambo, who had nursed the ambition of meeting many Nigeria community in the United Kingdom was given a showdwn by his own official who were so overzealous. It was expected to be an open event until officials from  the Nigeria High Commission and some of the VP Sambo’s staff suddenly changed the whole plan, converting it to a Business meeting. Those who had come to have a glimpse of the VP were given a V-sign and told to back off from the conference unless there was invitation, which had earlier been sent for the busimess meeting.

The venue then adopted a zero-tolerance invitation card inspection.  Many Nigerians with business ideas were not allowed to meet the Vice President. There was pandemonium in front of the Hotel hall and once again foreigners at the venue saw the true Nigerian character in their loudest of voice. Decency, patience and decorum was thrown to the dogs!  There were boo shouts as a member of the Nigeria High Commission came to address the crowd  later declaring that the VP  just wanted to meet officials of the High Commission and selected members of the Nigerian community living in the United Kingdom and Ireland and not just ‘every Dick,Tom and Harry. ‘This man statement sealed any hope of gaining entrance into the main hall in a brisk demonstration that all animals are equal but some are more equal than the others. Shame big shame!

Dr Adesina,Minister for Agriculture just doing the business.

This wonderful man received many accolades as he was busy throughout the conference getting information and  holding tight to his laptop. He was described by many people as very hardworking,  friendly and well-educated. He was seen moving in and out of the hall with his laptop bag and shown a sign of no nonsense by precisely answering many posed questions by his admirers. Nigeria will get better with such Ministers.

 VP Sambo and the shameless encounter of an ‘Abobaku’…

We all know the roles of  ‘Abobakus'(covenant with the king palace errand boys) in Nigeria. They are created to die on the same day the king ‘kicks the bucket’.

A Nigerian security man was so carried away by his engagement in London that he forget he was on Queen Elizabeth’s land. Just as an encounter ensued about creating spaces for the VP to pass to a main hall, the man turned himself to a buffet for the VP. He engaged many of those at sight in nonsensical vituperation that he threatened turning one of his challengers to a minced meat. HABA!… Security man… in Queens land?. The statement could have earned him a court threat because a threat to life is never taken lightly in the UK.

Real men must stop behaving as ‘Abobakus'( and carrying on their heads the Die-with-the King-Syndrome) outside Nigeria and within Nigeria. The official bodyguard to VP Namadi Sambo crossed his boundary with one London-based young man who also claimed to be a personal friend to Minister of information,Labaran Maku. This young man told this VP’s guard to go to hell for blocking people from passing when VP Sambo was about walking down into the main hall. This VP’s bodyguard rough-handled this London guy and a fight broke out. Few Nigerians at the scene settled the fight but the VP’s guard insisted that the London guy was a ‘security risk’ and he must leave the hotel immediately.

The VP’s guard refused to state his full name when asked but he threatened that if this London boy ever try this drama in Abuja Nigeria he said he is going to be a ‘dead meat’! This overzealous VP’s officer acted in a stupid and unethical way, telling the world that under a civilian regime, people are made dead meat in Nigeria.  The government must train those they are taking abroad for the best reason of making good representation for our country. Mr Securityman, you will meet your match one day.

My people, I will be reaching you here soon to chat on events of national importance and on issues that can empower us as foreign and home based Nigerians. Nigeria will overcome.