Abu Muhammad Writes

Nigerian businessman and former chairman of defunct Skye Bank, Tunde Ayeni has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons and from the look of things, his woes seem to be growing by the day.

In a classic gentleman style, Ayeni made an attempt to put the recurring episodes of bad press behind him when he issued a statement a few weeks ago addressing some of the issues.
In his words, ‘as a reputable businessman, industrialist and corporate player, I have no time for frivolous and sensational stories and should not be distracted by such publications. I sincerely wish that the media will, with this statement of mine, desist from any further maligning of my person, my family and all that I represent in the society’.
Ayeni’s woes all began when news of his romantic escapade with an Abuja-based lawyer named, Adaobi Alagwu (a lady reported to be a classmate of his daughter in law school, who is also reported to have dated his close friend) hit the press.
According to Sahara Reporters, Ayeni had an extra marital affair with Adaobi Alagwu, their relationship, though toxic as described by those who know them, resulted in a child that he denied. Even though Ayeni and Adaobi’s relationship was well known in social circles in Abuja, (despite it being a stain on his reputation and marriage) they flaunted the relationship with reckless abandon thus making his initial denial of their relationship and alleged child laughable. ‘Realising his folly and how badly the relationship impugned on his already battered image, he attempted to save himself by denying the mistake that the relationship was’ one of his associates was quoted to have said.

In his attempt to repair his ailing reputation, Ayeni made a panic move several months ago by issuing a press statement admitting their relationship was a mistake and also denying the paternity of a child he allegedly fathered with Adaobi, this press release from him is presumed to have opened more cans of worms as over the next couple of weeks, new revelations upon revelations flooded the media space about his affair with Adaobi.  

Multiple media reports about his relationship with Adaobi led to the press digging into his businesses, debts with AMCON and his recent political foray and association with the PDP and by extension, Atiku Abubakar.

In 2022, the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) took over the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) Ltd. The action followed a judgement by the Federal High Court which granted orders in favour of AMCON as Receiver/Manager of Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing (IEDM) Limited, IBEDC’s core investor, over defaults in a Loan Service Agreement with Polaris Bank involving Tunde Ayeni to the tune of over 230 billion naira.

It was also reported that during the heat of his media battle with Adaobi Alagwu, policemen acting on the orders of Adaobi Alagwu arrested and subsequently detained the editor and a reporter of TheNewsGuru.com, Ediri Oyibo and Paul Utebor. The journalists were arrested by the officers from Nigeria Police Zone 7 Headquarters, Abuja on Wednesday, February 22 following a petition by Adaobi.  She was said to have accused them of publishing a story, which she described to be defamatory, on the paternity of her child with Nigerian businessman and former chairman of defunct Skye Bank, Tunde Ayeni.

With all these going on and the failure of PDP at the February 25th presidential polls, Ayeni is now said to have swallowed his pride and began an extensive consultation, visitations and begging his perceived enemies and allies in the ruling party to seek their good graces. His emissaries are said to be knocking on doors, kneeling, prostrating and begging on his behalf.

Ayeni’s latest moves including being the head huncho and strategist coordinating the election petition tribunal team for Atiku begs the questions, would he have been humble had PDP won the elections? Would he be reaching out with olive branches if he was in power or is it all a move in desperation to save his reputation and dwindling finances? will he ever be held accountable for being a serial failure at the highest levels with strings of business run to the ground including Syke bank, NTEL, IBEDC, AMCON debts? Will men like him continue to represent the values of Nigerians?

Many might wonder why Tunde Ayeni has continued to feature in the media space and some might even dismiss his news as a calculated vendetta against his person. Truth is this is a great story not only from the point of a constructive and investigative journalism perspective, but also from that of a yearning, growing society of discernment which continues to call for accountability. Any government driven by a value proposition of merit cannot dismiss this story. The story is rich in scandal, a top corporate player, a discredited lover young enough to be his daughter, arrests of journalists. And when you link this self styled reputable corporate player to the country’s national asset that has been mishandled and ruined by his recklessness in the face of a hungry population crying for accountability you have a great story. Ntel, skye bank, ibedc and more all lie in his wake; yet the man continues to walk around free representing the country! Where are our values?

One thing is however clear in the middle of all the crisis Ayeni seems to be facing, he remains one of the few Nigerians with access within the corridors of power, but his reputation with multiple failed business, paternity scandal, multiple relationship scandals, debts and insincerity leaves him in a precarious position and moves at seeking peace from perceived foes might be a big effort in futility.

… Muhammad, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja

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