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Pragmatic Palms and the adornments of corruption in stripes of diamond in Enugu

Uche Anichukwu, the Senior Special Assistant to the Enugu State Governor on External Affairs may have leveraged the contacts he garnered in the Nigerian media industry during his days as a media aide to imprisoned Senator Ike Ekweremadu to limit the publication of the scandal that arose from the state government’s N100 billion partnership with a shadowy company, Pragmatic Palms Limited, but I doubt if the stains would go away simply because Nigeria’s national newspapers conspiratorially refused to give the story the story its deserved headline treatment.

I am aware that the Labour Party, which issued a statement on the scandalous development, distributed same to all the major newspapers and online publications, but none, except This Day considered it worthy of publication. But thanks to a highly democratized media industry, the news received wide publicity and people like us were able to read the salacious details of how the administration in Enugu signed a partnership worth N100 billion with a company that was, as documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission established, registered just four days before the agreement was signed.

It was a piece of news the government in Enugu wanted to make huge capital from. For one, the agreement, on the surface, was a headline-maker. As the country grapples with meltdowns across several sectors of the economy, any news of a government creatively exploring ways of making money draws the attention of everybody. Again, the project on which this agreement was signed was in the area of agriculture, which has been identified as a potential growth area for the national economy. Thirdly, it was meant to evoke compelling nostalgic emotions of the glorious era of the late M.I. Okpara era as the Premier of Eastern Nigeria and the strides they made in agriculture and industry: if Governor Mbah succeeded in connecting his government’s mission with that of the late M.I. Okpara, the people would transfer or at least connect the undying fire of love they still habour for the administration that managed Eastern Nigeria nearly 60 years ago to the current regime.

The question hanging in the air is how Diamond Stripes Limited has been able to operate power plans in Nigeria since 2013 without abiding by the global best practice of having a website.

But it did not work. Unlike in the days of slow information travel, people now have access to tools that can unravel any untruth in government communication and pump them through the bloodstream of the internet in seconds.

This was exactly what happened on May 11, 2024, when news from Enugu indicated that a N100 billion agreement had been signed between the government and Pragmatic Palms Limited towards resuscitating the government-owned United Palm Products Limited. Before the ink dried on the government press statement proclaiming this deal, internet-savvy citizens of the state had begun querying the propriety of the deal. They soon uncovered the data of Pragmatic Palms from the Corporate Affairs Commission, revealing that it was registered four days before the inking of the agreement.

Perhaps anticipating the difficult question of how a government would sign an agreement with such a young company, the media crew of the government cleverly inserted the name of Diamond Stripes Limited, a company said to be in the power industry, as the parent company of Pragmatic Farms.

But this attempt raised even more questions when it was discovered that Diamond Stripes Limited, according to information on its website (, was in the business of power generation and a few other businesses with no clear footprints. Diamond Stripes claims it is the concessionaire of the Onitsha River Port and has also been concessioned eight Silo complexes in Nigeria (Akure, Bauchi, Ekiti, Ikenne, Jos, Kano, Ogoja, Sokoto).

The concession conundrum

Rattled by the press statement issued by the Labour Party, Uche Anichukwu released an explainer in which he stated that the transaction with Pragmatic Palms would not cost the Enugu State Government any money and that the incorporation of the company four days before the signing of the agreement was to create a special purpose vehicle (SPV) “as the platform to transact the deal.”

Anichukwu, in the explainer, said: “As demanded by the Enugu State Government, Pragmatic Palms Ltd. provided a guarantor, which is Diamond Stripes Ltd, a reputable and huge company that has done investments worth over $20bn spanning power and renewable energy sector, port sector, and agricultural sector since 2013. Diamond Stripes Ltd. is the sole investor in Onitsha River Port and has invested heavily in the agricultural sector where it is the largest owner of silo complexes in Nigeria. It was involved in the acquisition of 600MW Shiroro Hydroelectric Power plant in 2013, concessions of 30MW Gurara Hydroelectric Power Plant in 2019, and establishment of 300MW Shiroro solar power project in 2021.”

It is the reputation of Diamond Stripes as advertised by Anichukwu that raises bigger questions about this deal. Information and communication technology experts have gone to work on this company and have discovered that its domain name was registered as recently as January 26, 2024 at exactly 4.34 PM.

For a company that has been concessioned two vital Federal Government assets in the critical power sector, this raised credibility concerns. It is impossible for the Federal Government of Nigeria to have given such prized assets to a company that had no web presence if we realise that the Shiroro and Gurara power plants in this claim have been concessioned in 2014 and 2020 respectively.

Further searches have also revealed that both dams are the properties of a company known as North South Power Limited and nowhere in the digital space was Diamond Stripes listed as the owner of the assets or consultants to the projects.

What Diamond Stripes did, if digital footprints and the history of its domain can be relied on, was to copy items and photos on the website of North South Power and place them on its site. For instance, the same photo of a dam used by North South Power to illustrate its ownership of the Shiroro Hydroelectric Power Station was replicated on the Diamond Stripes website. The two companies also listed the 600MW Shiroro Hydroelectric Power plant, the 30MW Gurara Hydroelectric Power Plant, and the 300MW Shiroro solar power project.

The question hanging in the air is how Diamond Stripes Limited has been able to operate power plans in Nigeria since 2013 without abiding by the global best practice of having a website.

In addition to the information provided for me by IT experts, I have pored through the internet for any information connecting Diamond Stripes to the Shiroro and Gurara Power plants and came back empty. But there are tonnes of publications about the concessioning of the assets to Noth South Power.

On June 3, 2014, for instance, the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) published a story detailing how the then Vice President Namadi Sambo, commended the transfer of Shiroro Power Plant to North South Power. Similarly, on May 13, 2020, a news publication in PUNCH newspaper detailed the signing of the concessioning agreement between the federal government and North South Power Limited. There are scores of other search results, but nowhere was Diamond Stripes Limited mentioned as the concessionaires, partners, or even consultants to the assets.

This is the question that the CEO of Diamond Stripes, Prof George Nwangwu should answer. At what point did his company become the concessionaires of these assets? Uche Anichukwu, and perhaps his principal should ask this question of this man who, according to information on the digital ecosystem says he is a professor of Law at Nile University.

In a clever effort to burnish his image, Anichukwu, in the explainer under reference created an impressive profile of the prof and ascribed to him some impressive, perhaps contrived Midas features, the type that was used to sell Governor Mbah during the campaigns.

He wrote: “The MD of Pragmatic Palms Ltd., who is also the MD/CEO of Diamond Stripes, George Nwangwu, is a professor of Project Financing Law, who has led transaction teams that have participated in the consummation of over 100 privatisation or Public Private Partnership (PPP) transactions worth over $20 billion across Africa. Prof. Nwangwu was the Head of Infrastructure Finance at the Ministry of Finance under the leadership of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, during which he led the team that delivered the Second Niger Bridge.”

This sounds quite great, except that nowhere on the world wide web was his association with Prof Okonjo Iweala mentioned. Is there any reason for not pushing this otherwise very significant aspect of his career? On the internet, we have unearthed swathes of information on this professor. As an academic, he is recognized for his publications on public-private partnerships. He is also listed as the Director General of a certain Global Centre of Law, Business and Economy. In the Nigerian Business Law Journal, he is recognized as a leading authority on private sector-led investments in infrastructure. In one of his LinkedIn accounts, he refers to himself as the Managing Director of Universal Elysium Consortium Limited, operator of the Onitsha river port.

Curiously, the domain name of Universal Elysium Consortium Limited indicated it had expired at the time of the search, but it is this company that was said to be the manager of the Onitsha River port, the same that was as property of Diamond Stripes Limited.

The question is, did Diamond Stripes Limited acquire the assets of Universal Elysium Consortium? At what time did this happen? If Prof Nwangwu is such a big businessman, in addition to being a Law scholar, why is it impossible to find anywhere on the Internet where he was even remotely mentioned alongside Diamond Stripes, a business that is supposed to be behind cumulative 930-megawatt power plants?

I am hoping Uche Anichukwu would use his good office to write yet another explainer to enable us fully understand this business. Even if it would not cost Enugu State taxpayers any “dime” as he said in his earlier statement, he should be concerned about the irreparable reputational damage this transaction bodes for the state and its people. It is the sort of damage billions of dollars won’t fix, that is if this government gives a hoot about good reputation.


Ikem Okuhu is a journalist, a Public Relations professional, brand strategist and teacher. With a career that traversed Print Media, Oil & Gas, Banking and entrepreneurship, Ikem is the author of wave-making book; PITCH: Debunking Marketing’s Strongest Myths, a dispassionate exposition of the dos and don’ts of successful engagement in the marketplace, especially the Nigerian marketplace. He is the founder/publisher of BRANDish, Nigeria’s first nationally circulating Brands and Marketing magazine. He has also handled the PR and reputation management consultancies for a number of brands, businesses and public figures.

  • Chidibere Francis Ezeh

    The merry go round continues with there jerrymadering. Tomorrow is indeed here in a disruptive fashion.

    May 15, 2024 at 6:22 pm Reply
  • Uche Okafor

    The fraud and deception continues. It’s a vicious cycle with no foreseeable end.

    May 16, 2024 at 4:49 am Reply
  • Onyekachi Kadex

    Their tomorrow is indeed here. But I’m yet to see any tomorrow or future that’s even quarter bright for Enugu people from this Mbah government.

    May 16, 2024 at 9:54 am Reply

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