How Otunba Mike Adenuga illegally appropriated 2.6B trust fund belonging to National Oil Pesionsioners

Listen to article

Otunba Mike Adenuga
When the federal government sold National Oil now known as Conoil to Otunba Mike Adenuga in 2000, the pensioners wrote to the then Director General of BPE  Mrs. Irene Chigbue alerting her of a costly mistake of not separating the trust fund set up for the staff by Shell West Africa the former owner of the company before the government compulsorily acquired 60% of the company in 1995. The pensioners intimated her the fund is independent of the company and Adenuga who had no known welfare scheme in place in any of his companies would not be an ideal person to manage their fund. The Director General ignored our letter.

Mike Adenuga came in and sacked the whole staff he met on ground less than two years after simply because he hated the idea of having unions in his company. He first tried to sack the executives of NUPENG and PENGASAN when he came in, but we violently resisted this move. I am one of the people he sacked in his prime. I was barely 45 years old then.

The Pensioners wrote another letter to the BPE director when their fear was confirmed that Adenuga would run National Oil as a one-man show sacking people at will. She ignored this letter too.

The dream of every worker is to one day retire and enjoy the benefit that would accrue to him after many years of active service. Every worker desires a life of ease and relaxation after retirement. National Oil (Conoil) workers always celebrate retirement because it is a dream come true. This was the norm in the company until the arrival of Otunba Mike Adenuga. His arrival in national oil marks the beginning of sorrow for the 500 odd pensioners remaining on his payroll.

The Shell Group established The Shell Pension Scheme under its original name of Shell West Africa Staff Non-contributory Pension Fund on 1st January 1952. They registered the scheme with the Ministry of Trades now Corporate Affairs Commission as a TRUST SCHEME for the company's employees on retirement. It remained a non-contributory scheme funded solely by the Shell Group when it was in control. When the Federal Government compulsorily acquired 60% of the company in the wake of 1975 indigenization decree, the government retained the scheme.

The Shell Group Pension Scheme that Conoil inherited in 2000 is still on in Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). It has been in existence for more than 50 years.

Conoil has not added any value to the fund since its arrival in National oil in the year 2000. Mike Adenuga ignored the statutory requirement that he contributes a certain percentage of the company's gross profit to the pension fund before declaring profit after tax.

The pension account into which Conoil never contributed a kobo since it took it over has a balance of over two billion (both liquid and fixed asset) in 2006 when conoil purportedly audited its account. The fund has been a source of easy and interest free fund for Mike Adenuga who has been running it according to his whim and caprice since then.

When Mike Adenuga took over as the core investor in National Oil in 2000, he suspended the 12% annual pension increase approved by the fund since October 1994. It did not bother the man that 71.96% of Conoil pensioners are earning between N3,360 and N7,499 at a time when minimum wages in Nigeria has gone beyond N10, 000 which is now N18,000.00. Otunba Mike Adenuga did not care about Federal government directive on harmonization of fringe benefits with basic salary when calculating pensions [govt. directive of 30th Jan. 1997, 11th May 1999, and 6th July 1999]. These ridiculous earnings remains today after 10 years of Conoil misadventure in the once vibrant company called National Oil without a kobo increase!

The pensioners took Mike Adenuga to court in 2008 to compel him to release his stranglehold on their fund since the money does not belong to his company. This will enable the pensioners distribute the balance in the fund as they deem fit.

Because of the attendant bad publicity the case will generate for him and his company, Otunba Mike Adenuga agreed to settle with the pensioners without the case coming up in the open court. The pensioners made the mistake of thinking they could trust Adenuga to honour any agreement reached. The negotiation has been going on at the Mediation Centre of the Lagos High Court for 30 months without an end in sight.

 Mike Adenuga and his lawyers have been frustrating every move by the pensioners to conclude the negotiation. The court had to write two strong letters to warn the Otunba when it became obvious that all he wanted was to let the negotiation drags on indefinitely.

Ten members had died as at the last count since the negotiation started. Adenuga's lawyers always come to court singing the same song of not being able to see the Otunba. This has been the trend for more than eight months despite each party in the negotiation reaching an agreement on how to disburse the balance in the fund. It is either Adenuga's daughter is getting married or EFCC invites the man to Abuja or one excuse or the other. The Judge asked on one occasion if Adenuga had become a god that mere mortal couldn't see.

The pensioners (many of whom have been demoralized by the never-ending negotiation) are already getting suspicious albeit erroneously that they have been sold out by their executives. Given Adenuga's predilection for the Babangida style of administration, their fear might not be wholly misplaced.

In January, this year Adenuga agreed with the Lagos High Court Mediation Centre to pay the pensioners 1.033B out of the audited 2.6B balance in the pension trust fund. The pensioners agreed out of fear that many of them may never see the colour of the money in their lifetime if they insisted on the 2.6B in the account. We were made individually to sign undertakings that we will not resort to any legal action after Adenuga might have paid us the 1.033B. Eight months after, we are still waiting for the money.

Sir, we implore you and members of your committee to compel Otunba Mike Adenuga Jr to pay us our money. This is one of the serious flaws in the privatization process. Our fund should not have been given to Mike Adenuga to run since the trust fund is independent of National Oil which he bought. Many of our members had died in poverty since he decided to stop our yearly increment. What can anyone do with N3600 in this present-day Nigeria?

We are no more interested in his offered 1.033B but the 2.06B balance that is in the audited account. Since he has refused to append his signature to the agreement reached with the court after Mr. Ariyo the Executive Director of Finance and the MD of Conoil had signed it is implied he is no more interested in the agreement.

Sir, we don't want to resort to violence to resolve this issue. This is why we are writing you and your members. We implore you to call this man to order before frustration leads our members to take decisions they will later regret.