Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 December 2023:
FA Oil, an upstream vehicle of billionaire businesswoman Folorunso Alakija, has been awarded a substantial offshore oil exploration right in Sierra Leone by President Bio.
According to media reports, Sierra Leonea’s Petroleum Directorate (PDSL) awarded six blocks to FA Oil under a single petroleum licensing agreement, supported by UK-based Africa Energy Partners.
The government of Sierra Leone has not disclosed how much revenue was generated from the sale of the six blocks to FA Oil’s Folorunso Alakija, possibly Nigeria’s richest female entrepreneur.
Concerns have been raised about the lack of transparency and accountability in the Bio-led government, in awarding offshore exploration deals to foreign investors in return for contract kickbacks.
President Bio is currently enjoying the political support of President Tinubu who is also serving as chairman of the West African regional body – ECOWAS that has recently agreed to send troops to Sierra Leone to help shore-up government’s security forces, after an alleged attempted coup last month.
Over one hundred people suspected of being connected to the country’s main opposition APC party have been arrested without charge since 26 November 2023, including the former President and chairman of the opposition APC – Ernest Bai Koroma, who has been placed under house arrest.
In the 1990s it was the illegal mining of Sierra Leone’s rich diamond mining fields compounded by poor governance, abuse of state power and corruption, that fuelled the brutal ten-year civil war, which left over 50,000 people dead and thousands amputated by rebel soldiers (Photo).
Now concerns are being raised about the lack of transparency and good governance in Sierra Leone, as the exploration of oil – “black gold”, could in future fuel another conflict in the country.