13 September 2017

Nigeria: Oil Firm Raises Alarm Over Fresh Orchestrated Campaign to Malign Its Image

Photo: Daily Trust

Aiteo Group, an indigenous Nigerian oil firm, has decried what it described as cowardly campaign clandestinely contrived and executed by a number of entities to tarnish its reputation an

The subtle campaign, according to the company, commenced a few months ago and had been clandestinely sustained but now appears to have shamelessly escalated, Ndiana Matthew Aiteo's Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, said in a statement.

It, however, said it was "unperturbed, to undertake and accomplish its identified objectives in its resolve to remain one of the foremost indigenous oil and gas companies in Nigeria."

The statement reads in part: "Whilst we have previously raised alarm that this media-driven campaign of denigration has been at the behest of at least one major commercial entity, what we were not aware of is the scale and magnitude of this operation.

"What has now become clear to us is that this campaign now appears to be on the increase and that its instigators will stop at nothing to escalate the nefarious drive to whip up negative public sentiments aimed at soiling the astonishing and remarkable growth that Aiteo as a corporate entity and its Executive Vice Chairman, Mr. Benedict Peters, have attained in the Oil and Gas Sector of the Nigerian economy.

"In what started as a laborious but futile struggle to present Aiteo as a commercial concern with questionable credentials and poor track record in the industry, on the back of the on-going investigation involving the former Minister of Petroleum Resources of Nigeria, this campaign has degenerated into a reprehensible "cash-for-report" drive to incentivise disreputable journalism through plainly false as well inaccurate publications and online blogs, all with incomprehensibly low thresholds for truth and professionalism, to join their campaign of disparagement.

"The latest in the series of plans to malign the reputation of Aiteo and our Executive Vice Chairman, Benedict Peters, came to the fore today. Our attention was drawn to the fact that this group and their representative have started to distribute large amounts of cash to unleash a fresh campaign attacking our noble and altruistic sponsorship of the Nigerian Senior National Team, Nigerian Football Federation and the competition previously known as the Federation Cup. Ordinarily, we would have ignored this inglorious exertion as the result of our intervention in Nigerian football is evident to all, but for another alarm raised by a London-based journalist of international repute that she was offered a huge amount of cash in London today with directives to write and syndicate damning reports to undermine the reputation of Aiteo.

"This recent revelation has now given us answers to why everything we are doing in recent times is being disgracefully and unsustainably attacked to the extent that even our sponsorship of the NFF and the Federation Cup, a corporate social responsibility initiative that has brought considerable delight to tens of millions of Nigerians is being astonishingly questioned. The recent successes recorded in Nigerian Football are pointers to the fact that these detractors have not, and will not, succeeded. Our social investments in our host communities has also not been spared these attacks to the extent that we have also become aware that sponsored fictitious "reports" about our operations are being developed and circulated.

"In the past, sponsored smear articles were surreptitiously distributed. Now, the proponents of these campaigns have attained such heights of desperation that they have abandoned every discretion in the bid discredit Aiteo's achievements to the extent of distributing cash for spurious reports. Our suspicion is that this is not unrelated to our drive to attract additional, increased direct foreign investment in expansion plans to our operations and output worth more than US$4 billion.

"There is incontrovertible evidence that this latest move will not be the last as the mischief makers have remained committedly recalcitrant, in the last few months. By and large, the truth always overtakes a lie, no matter how rampaging the lie is.

Aiteo is fast becoming one of Africa's biggest energy leaders, tackling local challenges with local manpower and giving back to the community within which it operates. The result of this approach has significantly reduced capital flight and helped in relieving the unrest associated with oil exploration in Nigeria. We assure Nigerians and those having dealings with us, including our over 11,000 loyal employees, that we remain focused on our corporate goal of delivering efficient and effective services to Nigeria. We urge the public to assess our activities and operations in relation to the objective standards of the petroleum industry, and not by the prejudicial sentiments or ill-feelings of hired authors and fly-by-night "investigative" writers."

Nigeria

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