Victor Asemota, a Technology Entrepreneur and Investor has debunked Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s claim that he brought Econet Wireless to Nigeria.
He made this known on his Osaretin Victor Asemota Twitter handle.
Asemota, who had worked at Econet earlier in his life, stated how Econet Wireless came into Nigeria.
Asemota said “Tinubu didn’t even commit to Cybertel (Econet’s founding trading name in Nigeria) initially. until after Delta State, Oceanic and David Edevbie did the major work.”
On his Twitter page, he said, “My uncle held a party for Tony Anenih Jr. after his wedding in 2000 in Benin City.
“Many of the new state governors were in town and came for the party. He got five of them into his bedroom and pitched a company called ‘CyberTel’, which was supposed to bid for a GSM license.”
“Only Delta State was very keen on it. The others told us that they would get back. Cybertel merged into the consortium called First Independent Networks Limited, which was started by Bolaji Balogun and his team at City Securities Limited. It was a harrowing period”.
He further said “We later selected a small company from Zimbabwe called Econet because we felt it was easier,”
“Econet was supposed to bring 40% of the license money and the technical know-how. We had the equity agreement as a shareholder, and technical services agreement as operator of the license. That 40% never came. It was excuse after excuse. We finally had to go back to the states.”
“The initial structure we had proposed was for the licensed entity, Econet Wireless Nigeria (EWN) owned by FINL and the technical partner to own 60% of the operating entity Econet Wireless Mobile (EWM) and the remaining 40% coming into that entity from states like Delta and AKSG.”
Asemota further revealed that he had to travel to Delta and Akwa Ibom to ensure the commitment of the states as FINL was supposed to hold 60% of the license holding company, and 40% went to the foreign partner.
He said OANDO came in later as a shareholder, stating that Wale Tinubu (Oando founder) also got the Lagos State Government to buy their secondaries and come in.
Asemota said “That was the extent of the Lagos State involvement in the deal. Wale Tinubu’s relative was the state governor, and it made it easier for OANDO to convince them. Tinubu didn’t even commit to Cybertel initially. Delta State and Oceanic saved ECONET. David Edevbie saved us all,”
You would recall that at the screening of presidential aspirants of the All Progressive Congress, Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, had told the panel that he had played a major role in building the telecoms industry in Nigeria by bringing Econet Wireless (now Airtel) to Nigeria
He said “I could remember that I brought Enron to this nation. Telecommunication is now a success today in Nigeria. I brought Econet. I helped them; they now want to adopt 5G; we started it.”