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The Enigma Called Chief Deinde Fernandez

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By Michael Effiong
Born to Mr Camut Akinwale and Mrs Juliana Francis, Chief Ambassador Antonio Diende Fernandez’s love for his culture and tradition was unmistakable. Little wonder he held the traditional title of Apesin Ola (inije Onimu) of Egbaland.
In an article for Ovation International Magazine, a sister publication of The Boss, Kunle Bakare described him thus “Renowned and well-known round the globe, tall, dark and refined man of commerce is an embodiment of good form, surrounding himself with exquisite things money alone cannot buy.
The Peninsula- The Private island of Chief Fernandez
The Peninsula: Private Island of Chief Fernandez
“With his eyes for details and uncommon panache, Ambassador Deinde Fernandez towers anywhere. Romaticised by most Nigeria’s richest men and women, his is the icing on the elaborately decorated multi-tier cake.
Bashorun Dele Momodu with Chief Fernandez and wife, Aduke
“Holy Cross, Lagos was where he began his education. He moved on to CMS Grammar School, Bariga and St Gregory’s College, Obalende (Both in Lagos) for secondary education. Brookklyn College and St John’s University were the tertiary institutions he attended”.
Fernandez was rich. His wife, Aduke claimed in court that he is worth 600 million pounds and had interests in gold and diamond mines as well as oil fields.
It was also stated that he had interests in such companies as Sandcat Petroleum Limited, Sanantonio Limited, Petro-Inett Limited, Sandcat Enterprises, Inuola Limited, View Limited, Sandcat Goldfields Limited, Voguehope Limited, Woods Limited and Petro-Inett Equatorial Guinea Limited.
He had bank accounts in Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, USA and Belgium.
In addition, he had kilometres of diamond plants in Angola and was Ambassador at-large  for Congo, Angola and Mozambique as well as United Nation’s Permanent Representative for the Central African Republic.
Fernandez was the shining light who had friends in the highest echelons of society, mixing with super heavyweights. The beloved US President, J.F. Kennedy was a friend. Also, President George Bush Snr.  President Gnassinbge Eyadema and President Samora Michel were members of his inner circle.
The stamp of luxury and splendor were trademarks of the high chief’s fancy as well as “classy and timeless possessions”.
He had this magnificent yacht called Yemoja, a two-storey wonder which had spectacular sitting and dining rooms, a lavish master bedroom. Two baths, two children’s rooms, a gym, entertainment centre among other heavenly paraphernalia.
The owner’s suite had an exquisite sitting room area, his and hers bathrooms, walk-in wardrobes and a lavish bedroom. The yacht’s magnificent stairway  spans three decks  and has carved antelope heads in the balustrade.
”The Goddess of the sea” which is what Yemoja translates to in Yoruba language, was designed by F. de Voogt, built by Van Lent with interior creatively crafted by Lavor. It had dominant African themes, lion skin rug and statues of warriors are prominently displayed on special carpets or white washed paneling.
If you are already gushing at the sheer beauty of this spectacular yacht, wait till you read the details of his outstanding paradise, an island in New York United States of America.
The island had everything including a fire service station and a long bridge leading to his magnificent, eye-popping mansion-The Penninsula
Lavishly decorated rooms, with golden balustrades, dining rooms with golden chandeliers, it is splendor at its highest.
When the water level is high, the state’of the- art -cars are automatically raised above sea level, protecting all the objects on ground.
In an article titled “ Welcome to the Peninsula” by The Boss Publisher for Ovation International, he revealed that the road to The Peninsula is like the road to heaven.
According to the writer “:It will take a determined traveler to meander his way to the very vast well-raid roads to the very last of the islands. Even then, only privileged few are allowed to drive or walk (most likely) on that beautiful road with several awe-inspiring bridges.
“Stern-faced security men stop all visitors, including the domestic staff for a brief chat. Driving the owner’s car is not guarantee of a smooth sail. Such is the elaborate security network on the island.
“As soon as the traveler passes through the proverbial eye of the needle, he is confronted by some little islands, in various degrees of opulence, each belonging to different categories of super rich.
“As you continue to rigmarole your way through the labryrinthine setting, you begin to imagine what your final destination holds in store for you. When you eventually arrive, you cannot but agree that the king himself lives here: It is indeed, Gatsby Country.

 

 

THE MAIN BUILDING

The original structure was substantially altered by the owner, Ambassador Fernandez, a perfectionist who wanted to create an architectural wonder.

In other lands, The Peninsula would probably have been a museum. It is  so monumental that even the richest man in the world would be intimidated by its sheer size and presence.

A giant door about four inches thick with glowing crest, with eerie inscriptions of a confraternity, welcomes the visitor.

The King of the house is a traditional African who romanticizes the beliefs and religion of his forbears.

He was a titled member of Yoruba’s highest cult, The Ogboni, which conferred on him one of its topmost titles, Oluwo.

Inside the house, his paraphernalia adorn a lot of the portraits. Like most Africans whose attitude to religion are syncretic, he respects religions of his people, especially Islam and Christianity.

Chief Fernandez is a proud descendant of the Olumegbon Family in Lagos, whose ancestry dates back to the 17th Century. They are Muslims and this is well represented in the Fernandez home.

As you turn the fat knob of the main door and push, the heavy artefact inwards, a portrait of a praying Muslim confronts you.

It is a symbol of the Olumegbon Clan which Fernandez holds very dear to heart. If you turn left, you will see a waiting room, if you turn right, a passage leads to an office where a stuff lioness stares at you, many portraits  of African heroes like Nelson Mandela and Obafemi Awolowo greet you.

The whole building is alike a well-choreographed orchestra. Every room is a coordinated work of art. No space is wasted . Every choice decoration is special and stylish.

A great deal of time, energy, effort, imagination, creativity and money most have gone into tendering such a stupendous edifice.

There is the ubiquitous Caretaker, Jack, an elderly African from Burkina Faso who has worked with Chief for twenty years. There is Joan, the burly Brazilian, who overseers the great task of keeping the exterior clean. There are two Housekeepers: Jackie and Sara two friendly ladies. And the jetset guys who make things happen: Charles a Greek and karim, an Algerian; the fly all over the world with or without the influential Chief.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

The best novelist in the world would find it had to describe The Peninsula. Where does one begin? The bedroom? The Guest section mainly reserved for special people. The parlous with their rainbows of elegant colours?…only pictures can tell the stories.

A WANDER’S DELIGHT

A walk through The Peninsula is a big journey. As you move from one part to another, you experience an epic feeling in form of streams  of consciousness and flashes of inspiration. Take Examples of these notes:

Doors: There are doors everywhere, over 200 in the whole palace. Each bears an emblem, which is the map of Africa. Fernandez is one man who is proud of his heritage. The doors of various shapes and sizes. The wardrobes have similar doors. In them neatly arranged dresses, shoes, bags, caps , ties and belts from the world’s greatest designers-Valentino, Lnvin, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ralph Lauren, Escade, Bruno Magli, Bally, Channel, Ungaro, John Lobb, Bucheron, Sulka, Jhane Barnes, Gucci, Sratton Crooke…

The door handles were made in California. On each of the faceplates is inscribed” Agbo Meji kii Momi Nikoto ( Two rams cannot drink from same bucket). And there are African maps on everything, including hinges.

WINES

Chief Fernandez is obviously a great connoisseur of vintage wines. He keeps a cellar where esoteric wines assault the senses. His wife told the French Court that his Wine Collection is worth over $1million.

His wine list include: Maisons Marques & Domaines-Oakland (1990), Corton Granay Grand Cru (1996), Chateau Cheval Blanc (1985) Sauternnes (1990) etc. The one that takes the cake is Cristal Champagne Loius Roederer, a millennium Champagne, 2000 bottles of which were produced for worldwide enjoyment. Chief has  four bottles of the wine resting peacefully inside some massive caskets.

ARTS
Everywhere you look, there are enough masterpieces to make a collector green with envy. There are antiques. There are contemporary carvings and paintings. Ben Enwonwu’s carvings stand out. Everything for Fernandez is an art. he once ordered dozens of Louis Vuitton suitcases with his special crest engraved on all of them.
Chief is a great lover of music and a great Sinatra fan. In most exotic hotels around the world, in-house  artistes know his taste. A rendition of MY WAY by Sinatra would automatically earn the singer some ward of minty 100 dollars at The Ritz in Paris, The Lanesbrough, Hyde Park Corner near Knightsbridge , London.
FOOD
Great attention is devoted to preparing good food in the house. Just enter Madame’s kitchen and you will see culinary wonders. No Mandarin could boast of having more cookery books than Chief (Mrs) Fernandez. There are cabinets with all manner of food items, oils, spices, juices, dishes, cups, glasses, knives, all kinds of bottles – oblong, rectangular, rotund, square – and the ovens are massive. Magazines on all subjects are neatly arranged in files.
Even her daughters love . Princess Abimbola, for example, makes cookies for sale (as a hobby). She even has own cash register. She enjoys collecting as little as 27 cents for her sweat (talk of a business girl in the house).
The chef of the house operates from the kitchen, which has all the facilities to cater for top celebrities, many of who drop by once in a while. Chief’s love for good food was demonstrated recently when he employed an Argentine chef. The manner of employment was dramatic. He had contracted the Ritz to recommend a very good chef.
The name of the young man called Christian surfaced but he was said to be in Italy. Chief located him, talked some deals and the chef couldn’t resist the offer. Chief was elated. He quickly bought a home costing about $400, 000 to house Christian. Not only that, he sent Christian to London to learn how to prepare Nigerian dishes like asaro (yam porridge), jollof rice etc. He got his tutorials from the Buka Restaurant on Kilburn High Road and from the wife of Ovation publisher. He soon flew back to New York, ready for the Chief.
LIFE OF A LEGEND
When the young Anthonio Fernandez

migrated to the United States of America on June 8, 1954, he was barely 18. Like many young men of those days, America held out so much promise as the fabled land of opportunities

Before his epic journey, he had spent time at various popular schools in Lagos like The Holy Cross, Saint Gregory’s and C.M.S Grammar School. Even at that early stage, he was well known for his incredible height. And he was a hussler, who tried to give himself a good life. He had a troublesome bicycle at Greg’s, the tyres of which were always going flat. Unknown to him then, he was destined for greatness.

America would turn his ambitious dreams into reality. Two years after the eagle landed, Fernandez made his first million. According to close sources, the money came from the most unexpected place – Jos, Nigeria. The sociable man had ordered for some Bauxite Ore, which was in dire demand in America. The mineral laid fallow in Jos. All he had to do was to arrange its shipment to America. By the time it came, Fernandez was on his way to being one of the world’s richest men

 

unexpected place – Jos, Nigeria. The sociable man had ordered for some Bauxite Ore, which was in dire demand in America. The mineral laid fallow in Jos. All he had to do was to arrange its shipment to America. By the time i came, Fernandez was on his way to being one of the world’s richest men.

Money begets money. Fernandez understood this very well. He started thinking of how to recycle his wealth and make i bigger. He would touch a few other good businesses. He would meet kings and Presidents. The African Prince would begin to carry his height proudly like a true blue blood. He would be crowned all over the world as King Midas and as an international negotiator, a quintessential peacemaker. The colour of his skin will matter less.

Years later, he would go into oil exploration and make it so big. He would be named Ambassador of other nations but his own country, for his people are not known to support success. They relish in backbiting and Self destruction He would build a TOWER FERNANDEZ in his native Lagos Island. But pancake trying women would soon constitute a nuisance in his neighbourhood. And, he dared not complain, or they would tell him “Baba onile gogoro, o wa gbele ru” (the owner of a tall building, why not carry the house on your head). He would try to start some factories in Nigeria, but government bureaucracy would knock him out. He had other bitter encounters

And, he stopped doing business with Nigeria. The story of Fernandez is an epic. He would establish a solid reputation as ‘Mr Fix It. His name would reverberate across the world as a diplomat of diplomats. At the United Nations. friends and colleagues would come to see him as an avuncular figure Nations would engage his services, in order to make the near impossible possible. And he is so efficient, smooth and dashing. His business card today reads:

CHIEF ANTONIO DEINDE FERNANDEZ

Grand Officier de l’Ordre

National du Leopard

Grand Officier de l’Ordre du Mono Commandeur de l’Ordre National du

Merite du Gabon

Officier du Ouissam Alaouite Grand Officier de l’Ordre du Merite

Centrafricain

Ambassador. Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

If that is not an achievement, nothing is. At 64, Fernandez continues to dream of a powerful mother Africa, a continent that can join the comity of other continents in their march towards prosperity.
His Chateau in France used to be owned by the famous General, Napoleon Bonarparte. It is another architectural masterpiece which sits on a large expanse of land as a big as a village.

The interior bears the indelible signature of the wealthy business mogul, everywhere you turn around this chateau, you are arrested by its sheer elegance and style.

Fernandez, the guardian of panache and prosperity travels in style. He has six topnotch private jets. His fleet includes two Gulfstream G4 and 900 Boeing.

He  worked hard and spent money to live a qualitative, stylish life!

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Fuel Subsidy Removal: FG, Labour Meeting Ends in Deadlock

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Talks between the Federal Government and organised labour over the removal of fuel subsidy ended in a deadlock on Wednesday as they failed to reach a consensus following the hike in petrol pump prices to over N700 from N195 per litre by oil marketers.

The hours-long meeting which was held at the Presidential Villa was to, among other things, prevent a labour crisis following the recent increase in the petrol pump price occasioned by the discontinuance of petroleum subsidy.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited said it had adjusted the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit to reflect the market realities. The agency, however, failed to state the new prices of petrol.

However, several retails outlets sold the product between 600 and N800 in Lagos, Abuja , Ogun and some other states.

The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, pointed out that the hike in the cost of PMS would trigger galloping inflation in the country, stressing that some outlets in the South-East were currently dispensing the product at N1,200/l.

Ukadike stated, “Once NNPCL retail stations have adjusted their pumps to reflect the new price, there is nothing you can do about it; that is the new price. As I speak with you, all of them are now selling at the new prices. The situation is so bad, that somewhere in Ebonyi State our members informed us that it is now N1,200/litre.

“We thought the President would remove the subsidy through a seamless means because the source of this petrol is the NNPCL. They are the ones subsidising petroleum products, they are the people who use their revenue to subsidise this product.’’

The IPMAN spokesperson expressed worry over the rate of increase in inflation and hardship that would come as a result of the latest hike in petrol price.

“This hike in petrol price will definitely lead to galloping inflation and will worsen the hardship already being faced by the Nigerian masses. It is not something to cheer about. It came as a surprise and in the coming days, we will see the very harsh ripple effects,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ukadike has called on the Federal Government and the NNPCL to give other marketers the opportunity to start importing petrol in order to create competition in the sector.

“The NNPCL is importing and has not given people the opportunity to join them in importing so as to see whether private sector operators can import the product cheaper or not. So there is no competition. In a deregulated regime, there must be competition, everyone with capacity should be allowed to import,” the IPMAN official stated.

When asked whether other marketers could resume imports since the government had finally deregulated petrol prices, Ukadike replied, “Marketers can import, but let me tell you some of the factors militating against this. The first is that there won’t be availability of dollars.

“You will source your dollar from the parallel market and if you are not careful in doing this, and you go into the importation of petroleum products, you might not ‘come out of it alive’ at the end of the day.

“So what we are saying is that those advantages that NNPCL has, should be shared with other major importers of petroleum products. If it is through crude buy-back, they should let us know so that independent players such as IPMAN members can come together and be able to use it in the buy-back model.’’

He added, “For independent marketers, the most important thing is that there should be availability of petroleum products, and the government should open up the space for importers and investors to come in.”

NNPCL, the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria for several years running, confirmed the hike in petrol price in a statement and a new pricing template released to marketers nationwide.

But the move has sparked a groundswell of anger across the nation with the Nigeria Labour Congress demanding an immediate reversal of the decision.

The union also said it would hold an emergency meeting on Friday on the fuel price increase which had triggered hoarding and scarcity across the country with attendant rise in transport fares, goods and services.

The fuel price hike by the oil firm is coming 72 hours after President Bola Tinubu declared in his inaugural address on Monday that the subsidy regime had ended.

To pacify the growing anger over the situation, the FG hastily summoned some labour leaders to a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday evening.

The meeting had in attendance the NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Festus Osifo, former NLC President and immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, and others, however, ended in a deadlock as the labour and government teams failed to reach a consensus.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, Joe Ajaero, said “As far as labour is concerned, we didn’t have a consensus in this meeting.”

He faulted the NNPCL over an official release published hours earlier reviewing the petrol pump price in its filling stations nationwide.

He said the move puts the labour unions in a difficult position on the negational table.

“That’s the principle of negotiation. You don’t put the partner, ask them to negotiate under gunpoint. The prayer of the NLC is that we go back to the status quo, negotiate, think of alternatives and all the effects and how to manage the effects this action is going to have on the people. If it is an action that must take off.

“The subsidy provision has been made up to the end of June. And before then, conscious people, labour management, and the government should be able to think of what will happen at the end of June. You don’t start it before the time,” Ajaero said.

The Punch

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Breaking: Founder, DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi is Dead

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By Eric Elezuo

The Founder of DAAR Communications, owners of the foremost radio and television stations in Nigeria, Raypower and African Independent Television (AIT), High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, is dead.

Reliable sources said the High Chief died while exercising on a treadmill on Monday afternoon.

The source said Dopkesi suffered a stroke some weeks ago.

Details soon…

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I Stand on Rule of Law, with Our Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, PDP, Says Dele Momodu

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By Eric Elezuo

Frontline journalist and Director of Strategic Communications of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Council in the just concluded Presidential election, Chief Dele Momodu, had said that he remains a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and will always stand on the side of rule of law, and with the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Momodu made the revelations in a statement he signed himself, noting that the last election, which brought Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to power, was savagely manipulated by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He praised the steps Atiku, and the presidential candidate of the Labour candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, have taken in seeking legal redress.

The statement in details:

I STAND ON RULE OF LAW

My position on the state of our country NIGERIA is simple and straightforward. I’m a loyal member of PDP who owes absolute allegiance to Nigeria and its Rule of Law. My political party PDP and others passionately hold the view that the last Presidential election was savagely manipulated by the ruling party APC and the cases are already in courts. Nothing will make me abandon my party on the altar of convenience and profit. Win or lose, I will continue to stand on this principle without any malice or prejudice against those who think otherwise. Democracy is a game of choice and I’m resolutely standing by our candidate, the former Vice President ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR (GCON) who has taken the honorable and peaceful step of going to court to seek redress. This is the only way we can deepen our hard earned Democracy. Sacrifice is not always convenient but painful.

I salute and respect The Wazirin Adamawa and others like my dear friend and Brother, former Governor Peter Obi, the Labor Party Presidential candidate, for promoting the best tenets of Democracy in Nigeria and I’m willing to encourage them rather than discourage their onerous quests…

CHIEF DELE MOMODU

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