This is a story of Nigeria’s biggest indigenous oil and gas company, a 61-year-old entity that was morphed over the years by a combined dose of ballsy youthfulness, ruthless ambition and the kind of opportunity that can only be found in an emerging economy.
The story begins with a historical perspective of the company and how it came to be one of Nigeria’s most controversial businesses. It culminates in the recent board room scandal that is threatening its future, as well as the investment and jobs of thousands of Nigerians.
In 1956, just 4 years before Nigeria’s independence, a company named Esso West Africa Incorporated was formed in Lagos Nigeria. The company was owned by Exxon Corporation, one of the largest energy companies in the world at the time. During the oil boom era in 1976, 20 years after, the Nigerian government acquired Esso’s interest, making it the sole owner of the company. The government soon changed its name to Unipetrol Nigeria Limited.