According to SR, high-flying businessman Emeka Offor is now broke. How did it happen?
Several sources, including employees of his various companies who have not been paid for months, told SR that the flamboyant businessman and politician is so cash-strapped that he frequently travels between Abuja and Lagos by road these days.
Emeka Offor used to take private jets for his trips within and outside Nigeria. But our sources said he has since last year been unable to afford the jets, which cost $6,000 per hour. “In the last two months, Chief Offor has traveled three times by road from Abuja to Lagos,” one source disclosed. He added that the owners of a leased private jet that Mr. Offor used to travel in confiscated the aircraft because the businessman could not pay accumulated lease fees.
According to the sources, Mr. Offor still has enough money to afford to make local first class flights in Nigeria, but has chosen the road option for fear that people may wonder what has become of his private jet if they see him on commercial planes.
“We do not know how things have become so hard for Sir E,” said a relative of the businessman who hails from Oraifite community in Anambra State. The relative added that Mr. Offor’s father died last February, but has yet to be buried because of the businessman’s financial crisis. “Sir E’s father’s remains have been in the mortuary in Ekwusigo Local Government Area for the past seven months because Sir E wants to give him a high profile burial which he cannot afford right now. He gets very hostile whenever we the relatives ask him when the old man’s burial will take place.”
It was gathered that Mr. Offor’s companies in Abuja have for one year been under lock and key due to severe business challenges. Several disenchanted employees told SR that Mr. Offor stopped paying their salaries shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in May 2015.
Mr. Offor, who for 16 years relished his media image as a top financier of the former ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), raked in huge government contracts in the power, petroleum and communications sectors. A source at the Presidency told SR that the businessman had made several attempts to have an audience with President Buhari, without success.
The source said Buhari was aware of the controversies surrounding how Mr. Offor made his fortune, adding that the president was not eager to associate with “Aso Rock contractors,” a reference to businessmen who used their ties to those in power to accumulate obscene wealth. Our source said Mr. Offor was one of the numerous contracts during the 16-year reign of the PDP who got paid for little or no work done in an era when the economy was vandalized.
The Presidency source disclosed that Emeka Offor had approached individuals to help arrange a meeting with President Buhari. Among those Mr. Offor asked for help are President Buhari’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari; the director general of the Department of State Security, Lawan Musa Daura, who hails from the same town as Buhari; the Emir of Daura, Faruk Umar Faruk; and the Emir of Katsina, Abdulmuminu Kabir Usman.
One of Offor’s associates claimed that the businessman gave several brand new cars to the emirs as public relations gifts to facilitate the meeting. An Igbo auto dealer, who supplied the cars, is accusing Emeka Offor of tricking him into releasing 12 vehicles without any payment.
In the 1990s, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had blacklisted Offor’s company, ANCHOFF Strongholds Ltd, in line with the recommendation by a panel led by the late Aret Adams, regarded as the most respected NNPC chief executive ever. The company was blacklisted following its shoddy performance on a controversial turnaround maintenance (TAM) contract awarded to it for the 115,000 barrels per day Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company in Delta State.
Yet, in 2014, the Goodluck Jonathan administration secretly awarded Mr. Offor’s Chrome Energy the turn around maintenance (TAM) contract for both the Old 60,000 bpd Port Harcourt Refinery and the 150,000 bpd New Port Harcourt refinery in Rivers State for an undisclosed amount. The New Port Harcourt Refinery TAM contract had in 1997, during the Sani Abacha dictatorship, been given to Offor and his Romanian partners with large sums of money paid. The refinery has, however, been the worse for it, as it has since gone comatose.
The Romanian partners subsequently sued Mr. Offor for not paying them, but the judgment has yet to be executed for curious reasons.
Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, in an interview on Monday August 3, 2015 by PT, lamented the controversial refinery job and other contracts in the Nigerian industry awarded to Offor’s companies. Mr. Obasanjo also x-rays the contracts in his newest book, My Watch, which was published last year.
“Work began on the two Port Harcourt refineries given to Offor’s Chrome to do the turn-around maintenance only after Buhari won the presidential election,” a source in the NNPC told our correspondent. He added that Chrome “abandoned the work no sooner than it was resumed.”
An associate of Mr. Offor said the businessman’s hope of generating income in the foreseeable future is the Anambra State government, which has just awarded his firm a road contract. According to this source, Governor Willie Obiano gave the contract in a bid to secure Mr. Offor’s endorsement for a second term in next year’s gubernatorial election in the state. “If it were in those days when Sir Emeka Offor was swimming in money, he would not have considered doing a state government contract,” the source said.
It was learned that, despite being rebuffed so far by President Buhari, Mr. Offor has not given up on the idea of getting close to the president. One step Offor quietly took was to join the ruling APC. He has also asked his business partners, including ex-Senate President Ken Nnamani, to join the APC. Mr. Nnamani serves as chairman of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, a deal Mr. Offor acquired in a most controversial manner on November 1, 2013, during the Jonathan administration