Following the release of an article containing various allegations against Flutterwave, Nigeria’s most valuable startup and particularly against the CEO, Olugbenga Agboola, there have been several reactions from Nigerians especially professionals in the tech space.
Lots of tweets have been made from various accounts stating how discrediting of the biggest Nigerian Unicorn would set a bad precedent for other startups in the country as multinational companies and investors would be wary of them, making it more difficult for these startups to grow.
Nigeria is one of the African countries whose startups have received the highest number of funding and admission into incubator programs, and this may affect the startups that are on their way to attaining great heights and put the ones coming after them on hold completely.
What ‘techpreneurs’ are saying about the scandal
Reacting to the allegations Jason Njoku CEO of Iroko TV posted of a thread of tweets stating how we need to hold ourselves to higher standards as telling these stories is important for our growth. He said money and cheques are pouring into the country with no checks and balances.
He tweeted, “Telling these stories are actually important in how we grow our ecosystem into self-sustainability. In the long term thats all that matters. What we have now is hyperbole to an extreme. Been saying it for years.
Hot emerging market money poured into 🇳🇬 with zero checks & balances. There is so much wrongdoing happening right now across Nigeria. We need to heal. We are fortunate enough to have the 💰 & chance need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Nigeria Inc has been in the mud for a while now. We were supposed to be different. Time to show the difference.
It’s actually great we report on our own. After-all it is we who are on ground. What’s better? That all these things emerge later on Bloomberg? I left a Tech WhatsApp group I was in yesterday because the echo chamber was sickening. Now is NOT the time to close ranks. F&(k your ROI.
My heart broke yesterday as I truly, with my soul believed 🇳🇬tech was different. It still can be. What FW did (if proven) was wrong. @TechProd_Arch & team must remedy it. Will FW die? of course not, but penance will need to be paid. Again that’s a good thing. FW will be stronger.
But right now it’s a mad money rush & it’s too early as we haven’t built the foundation. It’s good for the ecosystem. Let investors pause & let us find our own pace to operate. 🇳🇬 as a country has failed. As our fathers die it’s left to us to pull us out of our current malaise.
Independent media is vital. VITAL to that. VITAL. You may dislike @DavidHundeyin bombastic style. But don’t miss the intent. The receipts are there to see. Former employees were ready & willing to turn the spotlight. Now it’s left to FW. But we must defend independent media✊🏿🇳🇬🙌🏿.
We need to collectively do better. I am 100% sure founders everywhere are checking internally & adjusting themselves accordingly so they don’t end up on the stake. Again that’s a great thing. It’s we we after-all. God bless”
Telling these stories are actually important in how we grow our ecosystem into self sustainability. In the long term thats all that matters. What we have now is hypebole to an extreme. Been saying it for years. Hot emerging market money poured into 🇳🇬 with zero checks & balances.
— JasonNjoku (@JasonNjoku) April 13, 2022
CEO of Publicis Groupe and founder of Overwoodng, Dr Tayo Oyedeji also published a thread on Twitter stating how difficult it is to build and how easy it is to destroy. He described the article as simple innuendos, requesting the writer, David Hundeyin to find concrete evidence to his allegations.
“Someone’s life and livelihood should not be decimated because of innuendos, find proof before you write,” he tweeted.
Referring to the sexual misconduct allegations against the CEO of Flutterwave which none of the alleged women has come out to acknowledge and the CEO has vehemently denied, he said;
“He said ‘No, we never dated. She said ‘No, we never dated.
“But you report that other people think they had a relationship and you also believe they do.
“You need some proof before you accuse people of these egregious things. These innuendoes destroy lives.”
He concluded the Twitter thread by saying, “BTW, I have never met Gbenga and Iyin and I have absolutely zero business with Flutterwave.
“I just think that people should have clear, indisputable evidence before releasing ‘articles’ that can potentially destroy the reputation of a company, a person, and a business ecosystem.”
Other Tech CEOs may have been speaking from the perspective of an outsider, but for the former CEO of Flutterwave, Iyin Aboyeji who was involved in the suit, his stance has been on the side of the defence. Following the article released by journalist David Hundeyin, the former CEO has released a couple of tweets defending himself and describing the article as an attack on his good name.
His first tweet addressed the fact that he owned just 17% of Flutterwave stake even though he was CEO. According to the article, the fact that he owned only 17% was evidence that showed that he was just a mere figurehead in the company and not the actual CEO. He stated “Never have I ever owned more than 20% in a company I co-founded or invested in but I work like I own 100%. That is my covenant with God. We serve with everything. That is the Christian standard of service. Col 3:23”.
He also insisted on the fact that he was the initial CEO of Flutterwave by stating, “By my hand, I incorporated Flutterwave May 2, 2016 (while I was still at Andela by the way) and by my hand, I resigned with a letter dated Oct 12, 2018. Every single necessary evidence has been preserved because I conducted myself with the highest integrity”.
When other Twitter users inquired on why he left if he was really CEO, his response was “Flutterwave was not a side hustle and those who matter in the bank were aware of it. We tried to make a deal happen but for a few reasons, we couldn’t. This was why when I left Flutterwave I lobbied to change the law in BOFIA 2020 so banks could invest in fintechs.”
He went ahead to discredit the article saying that the investigation was dismissed in 2017 while the article stated that they went to the hearing in 2018. “Absolutely. He’s made himself hard to ignore this time sha. Especially since he claims I visited DC in 2018 with imaginary people to resolve an investigation that was closed by SEC in Sept 2017”.
He described the article as a work of fiction, stating that the journalist did not reach out to him to get a comment and rubbished his journalism.
“David tends to write amazing fiction about me. I only wish he would ask me for my comments so we can get to the facts. Still waiting for the email that never entered our inbox from the last series he wrote.
“Should have joined Lagos City People since that’s the sort of ‘journalism’ he likes to do. But the man abhors structure and accountability so he will never do it”.
He made it clear that the article was some sort of witch hunt by the journalist on him stating, “I can guarantee you that Hundeyin doesn’t like me because I am Christian. He has said as much. The last time he tried to imply my firm received a deck we never did and shared it with an investee. I let it slide. But this time, we will have to go the whole hog. Sadly”.
In response to the claims that the article made stating that Gbenga Agboola, Iyin Aboyeji and the Managing director of Access bank Herbert Wigwe went to Washington DC for an SEC hearing, Iyin denied it in his tweets saying, “All lies. Only I went and we were cleared. David should have called me for comment but he doesn’t care about the truth”
He also described the relationship Flutterwave has with Access bank as a special relationship in his tweet stating “There are many important things to learn about Flutterwave’s founding and our special relationship with Access Bank but first we must first separate fact from fiction. Then we can have a proper conversation.”
While he may have denied the Managing Director of Access bank being involved at the SEC hearing, he acknowledged that Flutterwave has a special relationship with Access bank, something that was made clear in the article. Although in the article, the relationship was painted in a not so positive light, stating that Flutterwave was built while the actual CEO Mr Agboola was still a staff of Access bank, making it the sole reason Iyin was involved in Flutterwave.
Refuting the claim, Mr Aboyeji responded saying, “ The ethical questions are did the leadership of Access Bank know GB and Leke were working on Flutterwave and I can confirm yes. Was their phased exit from access bank disclosed to investors and the answer is yes. Even I incorporated Flutterwave while being at Andela.”