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Does A Booming Bauxite Business In Guinea Explain Bola Tinubu’s Dual Nationality Controversy?

Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

It seems that the story of the alleged dual citizenship of APC’s President-elect, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as revealed by investigative journalist, David Hundeyin, may become the ingredient Nigerians need to confirm the rumour that the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the southwest billionaire politician are political enemies during the day, and business partners at night.

Those who claim to know the two politicians have over the years propagated this myth of friendship between Tinubu and Atiku that Nigerians have failed to understand. How can two people be such good friends to the point of incubating businesses together, yet behave like sworn enemies on the political turf?

The myth built around the relationship between the two men has grown thick over the years to the point of becoming subjects of folklore. I remember a friend talking quite authoritatively, a few years ago, about how Tinubu saved Atiku from being arrested in the United States after the then president Olusegun Obasanjo, had planted $5 million somewhere inside the Nigerian presidential jet that was flying the then Vice President to the United States. Tinubu was said to have used his men in the Department of State Services (DSS) to discover President Obasanjo’s plans to have Atiku arrested in the US for money laundering and thus tipped off his friend who then diverted his flight to land in Congo Democratic Republic, where the planted money was said to have been discovered and attended to. Atiku continued his journey to the US, afterwards.

The legendary founder of the Yoruba people, Oduduwa, was fabled to have dropped from the skies to birth the cast nation in the entire Southwest and parts of northcentral Nigeria. I suspect that a time shall come in the future, when we’d all have gone, that Jagaban, the mysterious man from southwest Nigeria would be read in history books with such divine attributes as the fabled Yoruba progenitor.

There are a number of similar stories, including those bothering on strong business partnerships spanning many years between the two. But the stories remained in the realm of the mythical until David Hundeyin released what looks like Bola Tinubu’s Guinean passport, and I began to ask questions and connect the dots.

Tinubu made headlines for his contributions towards enthroning Guinea’s president, Alpha Conde. In an October 26, 2015 article, Sunday Dare, an aide to the Lagos political Olympus, who later became Minister of Sports, praised his principal for leading the contributors to the emergence of Conde in the election held in the country earlier on October 11, 2015.

The photo page of Tinubu’s alleged Guinean passport.

Many Nigerians missed this story and its import, but current developments confirm that perhaps what Dare was trying to tell us was that the fabled “owner of Lagos” had bought himself a country off the coast of Lagos. It was not surprising, therefore, when in 2019, Daily Independent newspaper published a front-page story, suggesting that the man from Guinea was lobbying President Muhammadu Buhari to make Asiwaju Tinubu his successor, a plea that, from all indications, appears to have been heeded.

Guinea is a country of 13.2 million people, less than half the touted population of Tinubu’s Lagos. Besides being notorious for being a major narcotics route, it also has one of the world’s largest deposits of bauxite.

While trying to unravel the reason Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu took Guinean citizenship, assuming David Hundeyin is eventually proven right, I began to ask questions, and my chance encounter with a business executive with growing interests in the West Coast and Central African regions provided what looks like an explanation.

According to this friend of mine, Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar are rumoured in the Guinean business and political circles, to jointly own the biggest bauxite processing plants in the country. According to him, the two men are loved and respected in Guinea because they the wheels on which the country’s economy runs.

Bauxite may not be a popular mineral, and might not be known by many people, including those who use it every day, but it is a naturally occurring, heterogeneous material composed primarily of one or more aluminum hydroxide minerals, plus various mixtures of silica, iron oxide, titania, aluminosilicate, and other impurities in minor or trace amounts. The bulk of the world’s bauxite production is used as feed for the manufacture of alumina. The majority of alumina thus produced from this refining process is in turn employed as the feedstock for the production of aluminum metal.

Have you seen how big this industry is? Look around the entire country and see for yourself. Nearly all the houses built in Nigeria over the past 10 years and beyond are adorning aluminum roofing sheets. The windows of these houses are also fitted with aluminum frames, and these are just to give the layman an idea of how big bauxite is as a mineral.

Statistics indicate that Guinea has the largest bauxite reserve count in the world, which is estimated at 40 billion tonnes. In 2019, this tiny country produced and exported 64 million metric tonnes of the ore, second only to Australia (105 million MT) and China (68 million MT).

At an average international price of $30 per metric tonne, this translates to $1.92 billion of income per annum, or N1.4 trillion.

If indeed Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar are the lead players in Guinea’s booming bauxite industry, the numbers above give an idea of how much the men scoop from the tiny West African country. It also tells you why Alpha Conde is interested in having a Tinubu as Nigeria’s president.

In Guinea, Tinubu is most likely a highly regarded foreign investor. The same way Nigerian politicians drool over executives from Siemens, Toyota, China Civil Engineering, Hyundai, and all those Western and Asian companies and nationals that bring businesses to Nigeria is likely the same way Guineans regard, and even idolize Tinubu. And unlike some of those investors who would be reluctant to cut deals, one can be sure that Prof Alpha Conde and his democratic oligarchs in Guinea would be “well taken care of” by the deft Nigerian politico-businessman.

I do not know what the laws of Guinea say about foreign ownership of businesses, but if you were Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and you are told that the only way you can optimize your interests in an investment in another country was to take up citizenship, what would you do?

Again, if you are such a close friend to the President of a country where you are the biggest player in their government’s biggest revenue earner, and your friend, the President advises that you take up citizenship as a means of securing your investments, would your answer be a NO?

I have seen a number of associates, acolytes, and aides struggle to defend or wave off the dual citizenship baggage of the President-elect, and the only thing I have for them is pity. The sorriest sight of them all was Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, who lost his enviable eloquence and became a stammerer the other day as Seun Okinbaloye tried in vain to extract intelligent commentary on the raging dual citizenship debate. Many of these people may have served Jagaban since he became governor of Lagos State in 1999, but I doubt if they know him and the reaches of his tentacles.

The size and worth of Guinea’s bauxite deposits were a shocker to me. Until my friend mentioned it and I went on further research, it never occurred to me that Guinea would be so rich, and that Nigerians are possibly the sprockets turning what I have concluded is worth more than several goldmines.

In Guinea, the bauxite deposits are vast, and there might be more discoveries as time goes on. At the present production of 64 million metric tonnes per annum, it will take exactly 625 years to exhaust the over 40 billion metric tonnes in the country’s reserve. That is many lifetimes and generations of dominance of the Guinean economic arena by one person (and those who will come after him).

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is insatiably territorial. Those who have attempted to study him think his nature and methods in politics and business tend towards the feudalistic. Any territory he enters, he exploits the system to become an owner, the owner. From a member of a group that agitated for the end to military rule in Nigeria, he emerged from behind as Governor of Lagos, and right before the eyes of those who were helping to prop him, he assumed the titles of “builder of Lagos” and “owner of Lagos.” From Lagos, his hands, stretched endlessly like those of Squidward Tentacles, a character in the popular cartoon series, SpongeBob SquarePants, to other states in Southwest and South-south regions of Nigeria and then across the Atlantic to countries like Guinea, where he is said to be the biggest player in the country’s biggest industry.

Who knows where else? Who knows what else about this living mystique that no person, except himself can explain? The legendary founder of the Yoruba people, Oduduwa, was fabled to have dropped from the skies to birth the cast nation in the entire Southwest and parts of northcentral Nigeria. I suspect that a time shall come in the future, when we’d all have gone, that Jagaban, the mysterious man from southwest Nigeria would be read in history books with such divine attributes as the fabled Yoruba progenitor.

And with what we are hearing, who knows if he wouldn’t also ascend to similar immortality in the Republique du Guinee and even one or two other African countries.

What Jagaban cannot do does not exist!

 Culled from http://ikemsjournal.com.ng.

 

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