By Oladimeji Abitogun
- Originally written in April of 2011, this article by Mr. Oladimeji Abitogun is a critical appraisal of the personality of businessman Jimoh Ibrahim, who is currently facing hard times as his business concerns come under government scrutiny for alleged laspses.
It would hardly matter that Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, the bashful and abrasive owner of Emery Oil and Global Fleet Corporation wants us to perceive him as an unborn, self made billionaire, his lack of humility, or should I say his penchant for false humility, leaves us with no choice but to think hard on the source of his wealth.
Mr. Ibrahim has a unique way of being vulgar and reckless in flaunting money; yet no Nigerian, other than those who work at the level of corporate slavery, or should we say monetized servitude, feels the aura and reach of the wealth he wants us to believe he possesses in colossal sums.
In this article, I call on Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, the billionaire, who became completely uncouth and disrespected the governor of my home state in Nigeria, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. Mr. Ibrahim’s conduct is not acceptable by any civilized standard. And I am happy that he was Harvard-trained for his post-graduate studies; we do not know if it was a full masters degree or a non-academic executive class, so it is not strange for him to hear that he should not disrespect the office and the person of an elected public official. Yes. Mr. Ibrahim can disagree with Dr. Mimiko in person;
he can even disapprove of his public policies it is alright. It is unthinkable to however disrespect him or call him names and slander him as a kidnapper. These are issues that Mr. Ibrahim must be ready to face whenever he finally decides again to run for governor. I do not think that he would want to lead a state he has already written off and subjected anyway as insecure.
Really, considering the inordinate way he has lately carried on, before I read his interview in last Saturday’s Tribune, I was almost concluding that an honest digging must be made into his emergency billions that is eroding his manners.
In that interview, little was done to reassure cynical Nigerians, that he did not make Otokoto money. No, I do not understand the kind of wealth a man has, that would make him publicly disrespect the office of an elected official of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in this case the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, for no good reason other than the fact that the man tried to make peace after some matter of disagreement on how Ibrahim’s mother was kidnapped and later released.
I was thinking of what made Mr. Ibrahim to talk, or think, the way he does until his interview was published by Saturday Tribune. In the interview, we were afforded a glimpse of his rag to riches narrative. According to him, he, like many of us from Africa, came from a polygamous home. He said that he attended LASU and later transferred to the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife to study law. He said that he taught at the classes at the Dr. Adedoyin owned tutorial college to make ends meet. Some of his contemporaries testified that Jimoh Ibrahim sometimes begged for garri in order to survive. But one would expect that a man who had to withstand thorns and thistles before coming into the kind of behemoth wealth which Jimoh advertises would be humble. That is like suggesting a defiance of the law of gravity for Jimoh. Telling Jimoh to be humble is asking for the impossible.
He plays god and thinks every other person who has not yet made good money is a terrible fool.
Some of our colleagues who recently signed up to work with Jimoh, as reporters, at his National Mirror titles, were always treated to comical sessions of so-called seminars every Monday morning and this man would tell them that Nigerians who cannot save up something and invest out of N10,000 monthly salary are not wise. According to people who listened to his warped logic, with such meagre salaries consistently saving up to forty percent of their take home pay, they would soon become millionaires. Jimoh does not think of other responsibilities the average worker has to take care of. And as a fetish Christian, he follows and derives inspiration from some gloating notable preachers who talk and twist the Bible, from precept and not process. And thank God we now know that he did not make his money according to the way and manner, he prescribes for the vast majority of Nigerians whom he is mocking.
I want to bring up a recent encounter during my last trip to Nigeria.
I was at the domestic wing of the Ikeja Airport in Lagos waiting to check in for my flight with Air Nigeria. I was told the airline is now owned by Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim. His workers, the ticket officials, at the stand were doing a yeoman’s job trying to assure everyone who had purchased a ticket that they would get a seat. This was around 1:30pm on the said day. And just about the time we were about to be called for boarding, an announcement was made that we would not be going on the flight anymore. We could either ask for refund and take another airline or wait and be put on another flight scheduled for 6:00pm, we were advised. So I decided to exercise my right to know. I was shocked to learn that the owner of the airline, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim decided to be erratic again and had made a last minute decision to go to Abuja in company of some other hangers-on. I thought of the arbitrariness
and injustice that Jimoh Ibrahim’s action constituted. But when you are in Nigeria, unless you are willing to overlook some things, billionaires, especially, the ones that were not properly bred and cautioned that wealth goes with responsibility like Jimoh can make one go crazy, or at the least, make your blood pressure to go up one notch.
I did not leave Lagos Airport until around 8:30pm that night. And when I eventually made it to Abuja, the descent and touchdown of the plane was like dropping an orange from the top of a tree. It felt like a crash. That speaks volume on the managerial competence and leadership quality of Jimoh. And that is what he would bring to the table as the future governor of Ondo State?
This kind of brash and abrupt attitude is pervasive in most of the things this man touches.
I am one of the people that are cynical of the genuineness of his wealth. At times, I am tempted to think that he is fronting for some dirty rich people in Nigeria; who needed desperate measures to hide the money they can no longer launder freely in international banks.
For example, his wasteful neglect of some of the assets of National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria, NICON, after he acquired it.We are waiting to know how fire gutted its high rise in Victoria Island after tenants had expressed disapproval of the tactics employed by Jimoh to quit them.How come several assets of NICON are wasting and rusting are on Abuja and other parts of Nigeria?
I was checking out NICON Luxury (originally constructed as SOFITEL) in Area 11, Garki, Abuja the other day. There are eleven floors in the spectacular hotel, which is by the way, an architectural wonder; not Jimoh’s achievement, but a gift to him through BPE Bureau fro Public Enterprise) that supervised the privatisation of public holdings in Nigeria.
I stand to be challenged, were those properties properly priced, no single Nigerian would be able to afford them. The hotel is not being fully utilized, only five of its eleven floors are operational.
The same attitude of buy and abandon is noticed with this man’s Energy oil acquisitions in throughout Ondo State. Why is his managerial sagacity more in sabotage?
Most people in Ondo State see him as more of an economic saboteur. The story is not different with the popular Owena Motels, an Adekunle Ajasin legacy. Mr. Ibrahim bought and allowed the facility to rot. Even his acquisition in Ore is not fairing better.
The other day Mr. Ibrahim had to sack a sick worker of his because the man got tired of his marathon tantrum and fell asleep.
In one of his in-house training sessions, he allegedly picked a call that came from the newly appointed Inspector General of Police. Apparently the caller was unknown to everyone until Jimoh, shouted to the hearing of everyone in the hall “oh my friend IG. I told you that you would get the position. And you don’t underrate powerful people like us” Always vain and vulgar.
And you dare not slow down when you see Headmaster Jimoh Ibrahim. Everyone that sees him coming has to dash and hide as if a notorious village masquerade has shown up.
A lot of the journalists who signed up to work with him ended up and ran away with crushed expectations. The newspapers advertised to print and circulate nationwide
can presently be seen in twelve states only. “Monkey no fine, him mama like am”. Jimoh was mocking the “rickety helicopter” in which our Governor Mimiko rode. Tell me was he expecting Dr. Mimiko to loot our funds to buy a private jet also? I do not think that he wants Mimiko to gravitate towards the club of elected looters.
A millionaire friend of mine, a university contemporary, who fell on hard time, once told me a story of how Jimoh almost treated him with condescension, as a result of which he almost committed suicide. When this friend had lost most of his fortune, he came to the United Kingdom and started making a living as a cab driver.
He said that he was called to give Jimoh a ride from a London airport. But that from the first encounter, Jimoh was an annoyance as he started talking and jesting him without respect. And my friend told him to a little more respectful and Mr. Ibrahim raised his voice and said he would prefer to go in a white man’s cab even if he’s had to pay two thousand pounds sterling for a distance that for which he might not willingly pay £20 to a fellow Nigerian. That is how Jimoh Ibrahim spends the Nigerian loot he cornered through Abacha, by assisting to collecting withholding taxes from oil companies. That is the money that empowers him to hold honest and hardworking Nigerians in contempt. That friend that Jimoh could not show kindness is back on his feet. And on that day, in London, Jimoh was told that the man he had so mistreated was his kinsman. Oh he said that was more reason to
avoid him. I wonder why he hates Ondo State and its people.
Dignity of labor is not one of Jimoh’s favorite phrases. Whenever he assembles our journalist colleagues, he insults them by saying that he ensures that they are served two slices of cooked yam in the morning before his briefings (the seminars) and that these grown up ladies and gentlemen, with families must not overfeed so that they can be productive for him.
His well thought-out insults to Ondo State people was turned up the other day when he said that Colonel Mike Torey, the former Military Administrator of Ondo State, had become broke and that he now begs him for money. He said the calls had become unbearable and that the man was now been hired as one of his many personal assistants.
Furthermore, he said in one of those seminars that Mimiko was already scared that he might be coming into the future governorship race.
Every elected leader of Ondo State has always been humble and gentle as a dove.
I am disturbed that Mr. Ibrahim has no such attribute.
In street lingo, something is called bragging right; Christians sometimes disguise that and call it “testimony” or “testiphony”. Jimoh Ibrahim is well endowed with such useless talks. And I do not know how he hopes to make an electoral conquest of Ondo State with such stinking attitude. And by the way, his newspaper should drop some of the burden of titles Barrister, (Dr.) they pile on him these days.
I was thinking why he is like that until I find out that he could be over-awed, over-whelmed and intimidated by what Professor Wole Soyinka would call the
“Ojuorolari” drug. Otherwise, how can Jimoh Ibrahim throw caution to the wind and close to disrespect the symbol of our identity as indigenes of Ondo State and yet
expects to be left unchecked?
I concede the fact that Ibrahim has the right to be mad. He has the right to be angry. But to be so mad to the extent that he would want to bite some five million people is unacceptable. Mr. Ibrahim has gone too far in the way and manner; he has been heaping personal insults at Governor Mimiko lately. To call Dr. Mimiko an “animal”, “kidnapper” and an “uninvited guest” in his “private jet” are unbecoming utterances that must be checked.
Jimoh Ibrahim said that he was insulted at the suggestion that he “hid” his mother, while deceiving the public that the old woman was missing and was possibly “kidnapped.” But he staged a circus that portrayed Mimiko and Ondo State in bad light by saying that he was relocating his 69 years old mother from the State, because the place was not safe. He felt that Lagos was a better place. He also said that it was time for change in the state because of the unfortunate incident. One cannot but be beaten hollow that Jimoh politicized the pains of his mother’s kidnap.
Hard as he tried to make us believe that he is not aspiring for any office presently, the fact that he would exploit the traumatic kidnap of his mother to call for a change in the leadership of the state shows him as a cold and calculating child. Those who accuse him of having a hand in his mother’s kidnap cannot be completely wrong.
The same man who said he was not running for any office presently, has now also told Saturday Tribune that because he shared the same month of birth with late Governor Adebayo Adefarati, and former Governor Olusegun Agagu, i.e. the month of February, and that because, Mimiko was coincidentally sworn in as governor on February 24, has expressed the optimism that he would one day become the governor of Ondo State.
But I do not know how that dream could possibly be fulfilled as a reality. Jimoh Ibrahim can disagree with Mimiko in person but it is absolutely rude to disrespect and denigrate his position and office.
And there is no way that I think, the people of Ondo State who, have been so insulted by their “criminal”, “kidnapping” Governor rode a “rickety” chopper, to seek an unmitigated reconciliatory meeting which should allow Mr. Ibrahim to smell the good air of Alagbaka vicinity talkless of allowing him to occupy the Government House. Jimoh Ibrahim has no good adviser; most of the people around him only love his money. And may be they give him good advice, which he of course, may be too proud to accept. I think somebody ought to tell him: HE MUST apologise to the good people of Ondo State.
-Oladimeji Abitogun is the publisher of sharpedgenews.com