The name, Wasiu Sowami, made a grand entry into the ears of many Nigerians a couple of years ago when he was announced as the man behind Prudent Energy & Services Limited, which acquired Femi Otedola’s divested shares in Forte Oil. “Who is Wasiu Sowami?” became an assignment to be unravelled by the media and the business society which had no clue who this supposedly greenhorn was.
The world should have been wary about a supposedly successful oil and gas business mogul with skeletal information about him in the media. It has just been revealed that those who had raised doubts about Sowami’s capacity and character might have been vindicated with sleazy details coming from his dwellings.
Three years after the celebratory mode that greeted his acquisition of Forte shares, not only has Sowami been unable to fulfill his side of the bargain which has necessitated Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited to serve a Winding Up petition against Sowami’s Prudent Energy & Services Limited over its inability to repay a debt of $6 million, instituted at the Federal High Court, Lagos in Suit No FHC/L/CP/1450/2022; he is also presently enmeshed in bankruptcy and allegations of financial mismanagement of funds running into billions.
Prudent Energy & Services through its entity, Ignite Investments and Commodities Limited owns 74% of Ardova Petroleum, a company listed on the Nigerian Exchange and chaired by Sowami.
The debt is said to have arisen from the sale conducted in 2018 where Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited and its affiliates sold 74.02% of the issued share capital of Forte Oil Plc. (now Ardova Plc.) to Wasiu Sowami and Ignite Investment & Commodities Limited.
As security for the deferred consideration for the sale of the shares, Prudent Energy and Services Limited and its Chief Executive Officer, Alhaji AbdulWasiu Sowami provided a guarantee in favour of Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited and its affiliates for the prompt payment of the deferred consideration as at when due.
According to the Petition sighted, Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited alleged that the sum of $6,000,000.00 being part of the deferred consideration became due on 18 June 2022 and that despite the demand letters served on Prudent Energy and Services Limited and its CEO, the debt was not paid.
Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited therefore urged the Court to wind up Prudent Energy and Services Limited on the ground of inability to pay its debts.
In another development, it has come to our knowledge that Sowami is also embroiled in mismanagement of N25 Billion, proceeds of the recent bond issue his company, Ardova, raised last November. According to unconfirmed reports, the money is said to have been diverted to other uses other than what it was intended for.
This revelation has thrown the Board of Directors of the company into overdrive, as stakeholders who put their names and reputation on the line have been asking Olumide Adeosun, CEO of Ardova questions on what went wrong with the fund, of which pension fund constitutes a huge percent. Mohammed Umar, Olusola Adeeyo, Aniola Durosimi-Etti sit on the Board of the company. A source hinted that a petition was already on the way seeking a probe into how the money was spent and what role did the Board play in the mismanagement of the proceeds.
Ardova Plc had announced the successful issuance of a tranche A and tranche B Series I bond worth up to N25.3 billion cumulatively. The issuance is part of the company’s newly established N60 billion bond issuance programme.
The Bond Issue was the largest local currency bond issuance by an indigenous oil and gas company in the history of the Nigerian debt capital markets.
The Bond Issue was 143% subscribed and comprised 7-year Tranche A and 10-year Tranche B bonds. The 7-year Tranche A bonds priced at 13.30% and the 10-year Tranche B bonds priced at 13.65%.
The Bond Issue attracted participation from a diverse range of institutional investors including pension funds and asset managers, supported by an A rating from DataPro and an A- rating from GCR.
The CEO of Ardova Plc, Olumide Adeosunhad said: ‘’We are pleased with the successful conclusion of this transaction which again demonstrates investors’ confidence in the Company and provides additional resources for the Company to continue its expansion projects.’’
Information gathered from reliable sources indicate that Sowami’s current financial predicament can be linked with his obsession of being the biggest player in the downstream petroleum sector. “ His acquisition of Forte and subsequently Enyo have put a lot of financial burden on him particularly with the current state of the sector. However , his acquisitions and subsequent management of the assets have been fraught with financial recklessness and stripping of assets which is evident in the declining fortunes of and series of losses posted by Ardova since he took over. We also gathered that there is a massive employee turnover as employees have little or no confidence in his management style.
The days ahead would show if the so-called investors had not misplaced their confidence.