By Etim Etim
Yesterday, I took a critical look at Umo Eno’s difficulties in articulating his agenda in the course of the hectic campaign season. I have received tons of responses. This morning, I will examine the huge debts which Akan Udofia’s companies are owing their business partners and the implications, if he is elected governor.
The media is reporting that Akan Udofia’s company, Saidel Limited, is owing another company, Hydrdive Nigeria Limited N200 million and $243, 606.5, and the debt has been outstanding since 2019. Hydrodive has made repeated demands to Saidel for payment without success. Hydrodive has therefore approached a Federal High Court in Lagos, urging the court to order the winding up of Akan Udofia’s company, Saidel Limited, for its inability to pay up its debts. Hydrodive is praying the court that upon winding up Saidel, Hydrodive could then be paid from the sale of Saidel’s assets.
In other words, Hydrodive is claiming that Akan Udofia’s company has become insolvent, and so should be sold as scraps.
From media reports, Saidel had in 2018 contracted Hydrodive to offer certain oil-industry services to it, but Saidel Limited has been unwilling or unable to pay up after Hydrodive has satisfactorily performed. From the court processes filed by Hydrodive’s lawyers, it is clear that Saidel Limited is not contesting the validity of these obligations.
Hydrodive’s court papers also reveal that Saidel Limited had promised to borrow from the banks to meet the obligations, but the company was not able to secure the loans eventually, and so it has been unable to pay up.
It is not clear if Akan Udofia or any other of his companies are also indebted to other persons or entities.
But why then is Akan Udofia, a man who has been described as a wealthy billionaire, unable to pay these debts, to the extent that his company is now facing the risk of being wound down? Akan Udofia’s indebtedness has been a source of jokes and pun in the political circle.
Last month, Umo Eno told a rally at Ibiono Ibom that Akan Udofia is not as wealthy as he is rumoured to be; that he lives on debts. ‘’Borrow-borrow make me rich’’, is the way Umo Eno described Udofia.
Throughout the campaign season, Udofia himself has tried to put up an appearance of a wealthy man by flying in chartered private jets which he claims are his. But this court case which exposes his inability to pay up such a relatively small amount of money is an indication that, indeed, Akan has run into serious financial crises due to his political adventures which began in PDP in 2021.
This must be a very embarrassing revelations for Akan Udofia who has carefully positioned himself as a rich young man. But what are the implications of a governorship candidate being in such a financial distress to the extent of being declared insolvent by a Court of law?
First, the repayment of these loans would be the first order of priority for Udofia if he wins the election, and there is a 99% certainty that the source of repayment would come from the government’s treasury, through the nebulous security vote! Should we allow Akwa Ibom resources to be used to settle debts company’s commercial debts?
Second, the Constitution forbids anybody who has been charged for insolvency from occupying the Office of the President or Governor. The Court will have to determine if the insolvency of Saidel Limited would have any bearing on Udofia’s eligibility to be Governor.
Third, Akan Udofia has lived it up over the years as a wealthy oil magnet, but with an indebtedness of N200m and $243, 606.5, we may have to recalibrate his brand. Have his wealth been a little exaggerated?
Four, it is important for Akwa Ibom people to know all aspects of the lives of their governorship candidates. We have seen a governor who has been boasting to us that he was already a wealthy man before he became governor. But the first thing the man did after election was to build a big country home with an Olympic-size swimming pool. Many have been wondering why he didn’t build this country home before he became governor since he was already very rich before he assumed public office.
Etim is a Journalist and Political Analyst, writes from Abuja