Just as news broke that 4 kidnapped Lebanese construction workers were released in Nigeria, one of the country’s newspapers, The Punch, had published its own investigation into Lebanese firm Zakhem Ltd.:
A Lebanese oil servicing company, Zakhem Ltd, is suspected to have fleeced Nigeria of several millions of naira in shady deals, SUNDAY PUNCH investigation has gathered.
A security report revealed that the firm had been awarded over a whopping one billion dollar contracts on behalf of Nigeria Gas Company Ltd, a subsidiary of the NNPC [Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation] in the last four years.
Among such contracts won and allegedly not completed by the firm include the engineering and construction of phase one of gas supply plants at Geregu and phase two awarded in 2006 for $220.51 for 24 months. Also, in 2007, Zakhem was said to have won a $49.6m contract to construct a gas pipeline to Abeokuta, Ogun State. The job billed to last for 12 months till date has not been completed. Indeed, the original cost of the job, SUNDAY PUNCH gathered has been varied more than once.
Both Zakhem and the company dishing out the contracts, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NPCC), have been tight-lipped in reacting to the allegations, though it seems that Zakhem may have gotten a little more aggressive:
At Zakhem Victoria inland Lagos office, an official of the company who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity refused that his reactions on the allegations be recorded. He, however, dismissed many of the allegations as mere fallacies.
He later took our correspondent to another official (a white man) who he said was his Managing Director. The man, who also declined to give his name or have a recorded interview said the allegations were misunderstood. The MD who said most of the jobs had been completed, nonetheless, threatened that the story should not be published.
Nothing supports your innocence like a threat to a journalist. And what do average Nigerians have to say about this? Well, you can safely guess it involves a great deal of Lebanon bashing:
Shame on Nigerians and their political leaders that award contract to Lebanese. That shows the highest ignorance and stupidity of the polity in Nigeria. Foremost question, what has Lebanon gotten to offer to the world? Where is Lebanese technology? A very wretched country now is a power and technology leader in Nigeria. Good for you all Nigerians. Since i was born till date i have read and came to know the Lebanese as fakes and none do wells, hilariously in Nigeria they are your best engineers.
Posted by: Georg Lituli, Italy, on Sunday, May 23, 2010