Benedict Peters, founder and vice-chairman of Aiteo Group, one of Nigeria’s leading energy companies, has denied being the financier of a nascent political movement being nurtured by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The movement is known in the Nigerian media as the “Third Force”, the identity of which emerged in the controversial statement issued by the former president, urging incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari not to run for re-election in 2019.
Obasanjo dismissed the two leading parties, the ruling APC and the opposition PDP, as bad for Nigeria and instead rooted for a National Coalition movement, which at the movement is dominated by technocrats.
Seasoned politicians know that a political movement, especially one that wants to canvass for presidency in over 750,000 polling stations in Nigeria, will need loads and loads of money, a minimum of N30billion, according to an estimate, hence speculations about Billionaire Peters providing the cash.
However, Peters, whose networth is put at over $2.5billion, has vehemently denied being the sponsor.
“While I have received calls and messages advising me to ignore the tweet and regard its publication as the handiwork of detractors, the delicate nature of the tweet – having taken into consideration my travails in recent times, fuelled largely by the adverse effects of incomprehensible media falsehood – require that I immediately, authorise the release of a rebuttal, given the malicious, damaging effect the unprofessional tweet is capable of creating.
“For the record, I wish to state, categorically and unequivocally, that I am not a financier of the said organisation or any socio-political partisan association or political party in Nigeria or anywhere else in the world.
“As an International businessman of repute, I have deliberately stayed away from politics preferring, instead, to focus and give my all to the development of my business interests across the African continent.
“Corporate Social Responsibility contributions has seen the Aiteo Group, which I lead, provide investment support in Medicine and Medical Research dedicated to seeking cures for several ailments which affect the African continent as well as investment in Sport as a panacea for the development of Africa’s teeming youth population.
“The latter has been particularly evident in the Sport of football where we have major relationships with the Nigerian Football Federation and Confederation of African Football (CAF).
“This is even as we continue to regularly provide financial support and investments to encourage building the “Nigerian Dream” through multi-dimensional and multifaceted socio economic interventions.
“Neither I, my immediate family or companies in which I have interests would embark on the sponsorship of a movement which is unknown to us. This would be crass, irresponsible and inconsistent with the commercial prudence that a businessman of my accomplishment would consider. To, therefore, name me as a financier of such a venture is not only vile and callous, it is insensitive and inconsiderate. It is a sad reminder of the length that some people, manipulating the malleable, depraved and downright dishonest elements of the media, can go (for reasons best known to them) in their despicable and contemptible attempts to continue to pitch me against the government of the day in Nigeria!
“Apart from seeking to impugn my integrity as the publication has done, the authors appear to premise the absurdity of their fabrication on my very well publicised relationship with former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR.
“I confirm that I know the former President very well. He is like a father to me. He was a friend of my father, the late Chief F.B Peters and has a relationship with my family that dates back over 30 years. In the publishers’ indecent haste to malign the former president and I, amongst others, they demonstrated a shameful shallowness that paid no heed to the very personal nature of our relationship.
“For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, I also confirm, categorically, that the former President has, on no occasion, discussed or mentioned any such plan or intention to me. This situation very pointedly affirms the irrationality and farcicality of the allegations as a whole.
“As unconvincing and implausible as these allegations are, I am constrained to take steps to address these unbridled excesses as a means of protecting my family, my business and I from these unwarranted personal attacks. Accordingly, I have instructed my lawyers to immediately take steps to obtain a retraction, in the absence of which they are to take all steps available to provide me with protection, remedy and relief.
“I ask the general public and well-meaning Nigerians at home and abroad, to disregard the tweet and its contents. It is nothing but FAKE NEWS.
“Finally, my message to the COWARDS who have, again, sought to use cheap, fabricated publicity and dirty media propaganda to cause me embarrassment, is that no assemblage of hatchet jobs/men or media manipulation can shake my unwavering stand and belief in the fortunes of the Nigerian economy and the success of the “Nigerian Project”.
“Aiteo as a business endeavor has come to stay and will grow bigger in the years to come”.