By Ediri Ejoh
The activities of indigenous firms such as the Aiteo Group gives credence to call in some quarters for the Nigerian government to expand the participation of such in the nation’s oil and gas sector.
The exceptional performance of the group since its inception are clear indication that it is setting a pace of resonance in the future of oil and gas business in Nigeria.
Regardless of the peculiarity in the oil and gas business, the management of Aiteo group, led by the iconic leadership of its Founder and Executive Vice Chairman, Benedict Peters, continues to show strength in transforming the fallow grounds of the industry to a more attractive business to venture into.
To this effect, the award conferred Peters by Vanguard Media Limited as the “Businessman of the year”, on Friday, can best be described an affirmation of the obvious.
The man Peters
Judging by his visionary attributes stakeholders in the industry have come to acknowledge that the man Peters, is a beacon of the Nigerian oil and gas industry. What more, his name now takes a prominent place amongst the list of Africa’s most successful corporate leaders.
Among others, he is popularly known for its vision to transform Nigeria’s economy through deploying cutting-edge, multi – faceted energy solutions.
Moreover, the company, founded in 1999, has adopted this integrated business approach that seeks to continually add value to the nation’s petroleum resources sector, with considerable success.
Benny Peters, as he is fondly called, has confounded common understanding by consistently pushing the boundaries with innovative ideas driven by commitment and world-class professionalism.
It is on record that the company, under his leadership, has witnessed phenomenal growth which has translated to becoming Nigeria’s pre-eminent energy conglomerate with interests in various segments of the energy spectrum especially oil and gas industry as well as power.
Also, subsidiaries operating nation-defining interventions in various areas of the energy space have occurred through Aiteo Exploration and Production, Aiteo Gas, Aiteo Power, Aiteo Trading and Aiteo Marketing.
…through his vision
Aiteo, under Benedict Peters acquired OML 29, reputedly Shell’s biggest onshore producing asset in Africa following a keenly contested world-class bid. On assumption of operational control in September 2015, Aiteo grew the facility’s production output from 23,000bopd to a record 90,000bopd within one year by innovation, professionalism and attention to the needs of the host community.
The company’s take-over of Shell’s OML 29 has not only generated over 11,000 job opportunities, but also reinforced Aiteo’s position as a leading indigenous oil and gas company with prospects to become a major global player in the medium to long-term.
As a strong believer in Nigeria, Peters has steered the Group’s strategic focus towards boosting the country’s overall financial capacity. To this extent Aiteo’s has strategic attracted over US$4 billion through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to boost its operations via-a-vis the Nigerian economy.
Peters is continually diversifying his investments in Nigeria to stimulate national development. This audacious approach led to Aiteo Group’s expansion into the power sector, an initiative that has seen it commit to the ambitious objective of developing a pipeline of power generation projects that will tackle Nigeria’s perennial power challenges. These include successful participation in various bids for the NIPP owned generation companies, transactions that will significantly boost the electricity output of Nigeria upon completion.
Evidently, Peters continues to inspire millions of Nigerian entrepreneurs who look to model his accomplishments in achieving global excellence and impacting society.
Career history and leadership
Born in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State on 5 December 1966, into the middle-income family of a banker and homemaker, Peters holds a degree in Geography and Urban Planning from the University of Benin. He started his career in the early 1990s with a short stint in national service at Union Bank and then Ocean and Oil Limited (now Oando Plc).
He subsequently moved to MRS Oil Nigeria Plc as Group Executive Director before rising to Managing Director. He left MRS in 1999 to establish Sigmund Communecci which transformed and became Aiteo Group.
With over 30 years’ cognate experience in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, Benedict Peters has established a profile as Nigeria’s pre-eminent oil and gas and energy tycoon. With an estimated net worth of US$2.7 billion, Peters was ranked by Ventures Africa as the 17th richest person in Africa as at November 2014. His business interests now span commodity trading, banking, mining, agriculture, hydrocarbon exploration and production.
An astute leader with many years of experience in business, Benedict Peters values employee satisfaction, impacted by and especially drawing from lessons from a personal perspective. This influence, infused into his philosophy, has meant he has committed to creating other leaders by investing in their professional growth through career development initiatives, health and well-being programmes, volunteering opportunities and a prominent emphasis on professional training. Across the Group, Aiteo employees are roundly equipped not only to excel in their roles within the Group, but to explore, internally, new career opportunities.
Sustainability and Philanthropy
Passionate about football development, not just in Nigeria but across Africa, Benedict Peters’ interest has translated into Aiteo adopting football sponsorship as one of its core Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. In April 2017, Aiteo announced a five-year partnership agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) worth an estimated N2.5billion. This partnership saw the Group emerging as the NFF’s Official Optimum Partner and funding the salaries of coaching staff of the Nigerian soccer teams, a move which is believed by many as the singular most important factor that led to Nigeria’s emergence as the first African nation to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
In June 2017, Aiteo followed up this sponsorship with a fresh N2.5billion agreement to underwrite the cost of the Federation Cup, now rechristened Aiteo Cup. In October 2017, Benedict Peters took his philanthropy and corporate social investment beyond Nigeria’s borders when Aiteo announced a partnership agreement with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to sponsor the Annual CAF Awards 2018. The event, now called the AITEO CAF Awards, honours footballers who have made outstanding contributions to the development of football development on the continent.
Mr. Peters and Aiteo have also made generous donations to the Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency to help tackle the acute problem of Internally Displaced Persons. At the close of 2015, statistics showed there were over two million internally displaced persons in Nigeria experiencing extreme poverty and challenging living conditions. The severity of this increasing national problem prompted Benedict Peters and Aiteo to make generous donations to the IDPs in the state and to encourage fellow business people to respond to this national calamity.
Under Mr. Peters’ leadership and guidance, the Aiteo Group has elevated to the forefront the circumstances of its host communities and prosecuted a prominent campaign to share economic benefits by providing work opportunities, offering training programmes and supporting local businesses. It has also focused its community interventions on improving local education, contributing to Nigerian arts and culture, and developing political awareness.
Beyond the corporate world, Mr. Peters is also involved in several impactful community development initiatives. He is deeply respectful of the rich and diverse culture of Africa in which his companies operate and considers communication and co-operation with the members of those cultures vital to sustainable economic prosperity. As such, he makes regular donations to charities and a large number of churches as well as a number of social investment projects.
In July 2014, Benedict Peters founded the Joseph Agro Foundation which is focused on improving the lives of rural farmers with tools that can ensure their economic success. The Foundation supports employment initiatives that improve Nigeria’s school system, while also running a number of awareness programmes to promote responsible water consumption amongst farmers.
Having clinched the Vanguard businessman award, his footprints has also set him and the company in a limelight for other African and global awards over time.
Among this awards includes; “Marquee Award for Global Business Excellence at the Africa-US Leadership Awards dinner hosted by the African Energy Association in 2014; the Leadership Newspaper’s ‘CEO of the Year 2014’ award for championing a local content and bolstering Nigeria’s greater capacity to manage its oil assets; the prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Awards in Washington, DC, in 2015, for driving “Economic Empowerment” in Nigeria and Forbes Oil & Gas Leader of the year 2018.
It is without doubt that his visionary landscape has triggered the company’s position of becoming the leading integrated oil and gas group in Nigeria, thus, hopeful of mounting a firm ground in the global space.