Wale Tinubu: A favoured nephew? 

Nigeria

Published on Thursday, 23 November 2023 Back to articles

Oando PLC’s Group Chief Executive, Wale Tinubu

A business profile of Wale Tinubu (b.1967) — the Group CEO of Oando PLC and a nephew of President Bola Tinubu — whose influence has risen since his uncle took office. 

The younger Tinubu was part of a government delegation to South Korea in July to discuss collaboration in the mining sector. At the time, his personal interest in the subject was unknown. He has been a major player in the oil and gas sector for decades but has now established a mining company to explore for lithium and bitumen, and is investigating the possibility of manufacturing lithium batteries locally.

The government has been championing such initiatives. Minister of Solid Minerals Development Dele Alake — who on 21 November revoked over 1,000 mining licences —  has insisted that companies mining in Nigeria add some value to the minerals they exploit. 

Although Wale Tinubu appears to be positioned to take advantage of this trend, he is not leaving the oil and gas sector. On 8 September, Oando announced the acquisition of Eni’s subsidiary Nigeria Agip Oil Company Ltd (NAOC) for over a US$1 billion. That would enable Oando to: 

  • increase its stake in oil mining leases 60, 61, 62, and 63 from 20% to 40%
  • nearly double its oil production
  • acquire new gas plants. 

The deal is similar to one between Seplat and ExxonMobil that was blocked by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC) and the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulation Commission (NUPRC) because of alleged non-compliance with the sector’s rules and regulations. 

The Oando–Eni deal is raising hopes that the Seplat–ExxonMobil deal will be approved, however, because neither the NNPC or NUPRC will want to deny Wale Tinubu their approval, while neither the President nor the regulatory authorities will want to appear to be favouring his relative. President Tinubu is also the oil minister. 

On 15 November, confident that its deal with Eni will be approved, Oando reached an agreement with the pan-African Afreximbank for a US$800 million loan to finance the acquisition. This gives it a line of sight on the cash to conclude the deal, erasing some previous doubts about its capacity to raise the funds. 

Until recently the group had been toying with the idea of insolvency after struggling to repay its loans. Now, its fortunes may be changing as it has emerged as one of the main crude oil lifters in recent months.

Although the reversal raises questions, there is no evidence that Wale Tinubu is receiving special favours. It appears that he is simply getting more cargoes and is also likely to be granted a mining licence for lithium. 

This excerpt is taken from Nigeria Focus, our monthly intelligence report on Nigeria. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

The November 2023 issue of Nigeria Focus also includes the following:

Spotlight

  • Electoral malpractice puts Nigerian democracy at risk

Energy

  • A favoured nephew?
  • Getting crude to Dangote
  • OPL 245 battle dropped

Politics & Society

  • Opposition merger unlikely
  • APC may gain three states
  • Concerns about flight safety
  • The economy of banditry

Profile

  • Mahmood Yakubu: Compromised or incompetent?

Economy & Finance

  • Inflation continues to rise
  • Dropping the currency change
  • Saudi commitment in doubt

Related articles

  • Nigeria

    Nigeria: Naira heads for new lows against dollar

    Published on Thursday, 22 February 2024

  • Nigeria

    Nigeria’s march towards a one-party state

    Published on Monday, 22 January 2024

  • Nigeria

    A bleak future for Nigeria’s opposition PDP

    Published on Thursday, 21 December 2023

  • Nigeria

    P&ID loses US$11 billion award but Nigeria will ask for more 

    Published on Wednesday, 25 October 2023