All the president’s boys…closeup on major beneficiaries of Buhari’s government

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President Buhari of Nigeria

The world of politics is like a perilous gulf bordered by storms. Several men sail into the turbulence, like desperate pirates, seeking floating and buried treasures. Very few, however, emerge with burnished pearls from the ocean floor.

In the expansive universe of Nigerian politics, the latter navigate the coast like sea-hardened sailors; armed with fetching meekness and staunch resolve, they persevere, holding course until they chance on floating and buried treasures.

Oftentimes their fortitude yields handsome results as observable in the affairs of Nigeria’s most illustrious magnates and power brokers.

In their privileged, cutthroat world, politics is deployed as a tool for peer coddling and clannish enrichment, especially amid high power circuits.

Natives and beneficiaries of this political paradise are mostly born to privilege. Sometimes, they aren’t. But one uniting factor of their circuit is that their lives are governed by a sense of loyalty to clique and entitlement to the spoils of Nigeria’s economic and political enterprise.

Much of their success stories are replete with challenges and hard compromises. They drive a hard bargain constantly pulling, pushing, and stretching the boundaries and temperament of the country’s fragile collection of tribes and political groups for a profit.

These men flaunt a canny ability to trade and batter anything for everything and vice versa. Ultimately, their passion and focus are on the bigger picture. Every dispensation flaunts its fair share of these national factors, or business and political superstars if you like. And some of them that are very well-heeled have found a knack for reemerging as the prominent factors, business and political game-changers in successive administrations.

For instance, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had Andy Uba, Femi Otedola, Aliko Dangote, Jim ovia, Yar’Adua had Ibori, Dahiru Manga; Goodluck Jonathan had Haruna Momoh, Diezani Alison-Maduekwe, Kingsley Kuku, Kola Adeshina; and now, President Muhammadu Buhari flaunts his retinue of “young boys” who are making a kill from the business and political space, backed by very powerful and influential elements in the incumbent government.

Nurudeen Kyari, the rice merchant
Some of these men include former Chief of Staff (CoS) to President Buhari, late Abba Kyari’s Son, Nurudeen, who owns a N10billion rice mill. Nurudeen, like his father, is evidently restrained and unostentatious but those who know him attest to his brilliance and enviable sagacity. Apart from being financially-solid, Nurudeen is one of the young men pulling the agro-business strings in Abuja and the entire north with his hi-tech rice mill valued at a staggering N10 billion.

It would be recalled that three years into his father’s reign as Chief of Staff, Nurudeen established Virco (Velox Integrated Rice Company) Group, an agribusiness firm focused on the rice value chain in Nigeria. The company operates a 4-tonne per hour rice processing plant in an industrial cluster in the Federal Capital Territory. It describes its flagship brand, AZYRO RICE, as “one of the finest quality rice grains in the Nigerian rice market which grains are stone, chemical and dirt-free, and easy to cook with an end result that is firm and non-sticky.”

VIRCO commenced operations with AZYRO RICE production and distribution in February 2018 being milled by a third party until the establishment of its mill in September 2019. Sources say this would not have been possible without Nurudeen’s late father’s influence and financial support.

Aside from its parboiled rice, the company is also involved in agri-business consultancy, the sale of black rice, a by-product of the rice milling process, which is separated during the milling and selection process for their slightly darker appearance that makes it unsuitable for the final packaging; and it also offers third party milling to clients who desire to mill their paddy in its rice mill facility in Abuja. A statement on the company’s website describes VIRCO as the ‘Now and Future of rice production and distribution in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.’

Riding on his father’s influence, Nurudeen nicked the multi-million naira contract to bag 5kg rice for Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s campaign during the last Ondo State governorship election. He has done so for many other governors especially during the 2019 general election.

Nurudeen is one of the four children of Abba Kyari, reportedly Nigeria’s most powerful Chief of Staff ever. Kyari died in April 2020 due to complications arising from corona virus. He was 67. In his late 20s, Nurudeen schooled at Port Regis, a co-educational preparatory school situated between the towns of Shaftesbury and Gillingham on the Dorset-Wiltshire border in southern England, and Marlborough College, England. He is a 2013 Chemical Engineering graduate of the University of Edinburgh and also a First Class graduate of International Business with Finance and French at the Regent’s University, London.

Nasiru Danu
Then there is Nasiru Danu, who has also been described as one of those privileged young men whose association with President Buhari helped blur the line between obscurity and prosperity.

With scant information about his professional background, Nasiru, reportedly a founding member of the APC, had his association with the president consummated with his appointment as the number two man in the Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2014.

Those who know the polo-loving Nasiru pre-2015 can only recall that he was always seen around top polo players and sometimes with the former Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar. At the time, very few people knew the name of his company, if there was any, or the business he was into. But the moment Buhari emerged Nigeria’s president, Nasiru became a billionaire with his Casiva Limited which is now an active player in the upstream and down­stream oil and gas industry. The company is also into construction, procurement, logistics and security services.

So powerful is he in the industry, where he is less than five years old, that when he sneezes even the big guns at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), shiver with cold. Thus, favour seekers and oil moguls, politicians and businessmen curry his favour and friendship.

Abdullahi Rano: The oil magnate
Alh. (Dr) Auwalu Abdullahi Rano is a man perpetually in his element; the billionaire magnate’s brilliance and lofty skills continually avails him leverage as the mythical magic carpet perfects the flight of the fabled Aladdin.

Rano is rock solid in depth and proficiency hence his unfading appeal to the hierarchies of the NNPC. There is no gainsaying he is extremely powerful in the oil and gas sector. Nobody jostles with him or butt heads with him within the NNPC and the private business sector.

Rano is indeed close to the powers that be. He gets massive allocations in the corporation with support from powerful people in government.

The billionaire magnate, with business concerns in Chad, started marketing and distributing petroleum products on a very small scale in 1994 with the dream of becoming a leader in the downstream sub-sector of the petroleum industry.

Born and raised in the town of Rano, a small Hausa-Fulani Community in Kano State, he built his first retail outlets in Kano State in 1996, and he incorporated A. A Rano Nigeria Limited in the Year 2002.

As a philanthropist of note, he founded the renowned A. A Rano Foundation, a Non-Governmental and Non-Profit Organization that focuses on community development projects including health, education, provision of portable water, youth and women empowerment.

Rano internalised a visionary culture of industry at an early age. From adolescence through adulthood, he sought to acquire the inexhaustible ropes of humility, industriousness and sincere modesty.

This is why he towers above his peers in industry and records remarkable achievement where so many others have failed.

Abdulkabir Adisa Aliu: The super CEO
An experienced graduate of Metallurgical & Materials Engineering, who consistently keeps himself updated and well informed on the industry principles by attending various training programs globally.

Abdulkabir Adisa Aliu being the pioneer Group Chief Executive officer, and a founding member of Matrix Group is charged with the overall responsibility of strategic direction and performance monitoring across the group. Under his leadership, Matrix was listed among the top 100 businesses in Nigeria in 2014, which has been a tremendous achievement for the company.

He has proven himself a professional in business development and also possesses diverse competencies cutting across the spectrum of Engineering, Finance, Trading, and Logistics.

The MD has over a decade of experience working with globally recognized oil and gas companies and some of the most respected banks in Nigeria. He is a visionary leader and a forward thinker who is resilient with a unique ability to swiftly overcome challenges. In addition to the above, the MD is also a result-oriented achiever and motivator, a humanitarian and philanthropist who is passionate about his immediate and external environment.

Mallam Mele Kyari

Mele Kyari
From all indication, Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, the Group Managing Director of the then Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and now the Group Chief Executive Officer of The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) is undeniably a game changer. He is a hard working gentle man with a perfect magical touch, full of versatile knowledge, ideas and experience, which he has used to transform the NNPC from what it was to an exceptional power house in Africa and the world over. Immediately he assumed office as the 19th GMD of the then NNPC, this focused and visionary leader rolled out what he called TAPE (Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence) a blue print to ensure the continuous success of the NNPC both at home and overseas. Just few years into his stewardship, Kyari has made significant increase to the national crude oil reserves to achieve the 40,000 billion barrel target through focus and commitment. The NNPC GCEO has pushed up exploration work in some basins and drilling of certain oil wells. The drilling of Kolmano River II & III wells, Seismic data collection in the Bida and Sokoto Basins are a few examples.

Gbenga Komolafe
Since 2021 when he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Mr. Gbenga Komolafe, has been taking gradual, but steady steps towards reforming the commission in line with his promise when he assumed office.

The 58-year-old engineer from Ondo state, has shown that he is a round peg in a round hole as he continues to take critical decisions to ensure that NUPRC’s mandates are achieved.

A Fellow of Nigerian Society of Engineers, Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria and member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Komolafe’s expertise as a seasoned engineer and lawyer have no doubt been instrumental in giving the regulatory body the needed impetus to achieve its mandate.

The Capital

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