Friday, 4 September 2015

Real Reason Late ‘Deinde Fernandez didn’t invest in Nigeria


By on 11:33
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The Ambassador Plenipotentiary with his good friend ex-US President George Bush Senior
Since his demise last Tuesday September 1st, 2015 at the ripe age of 86 there have been several analysis on the social media about the personality of the late African bureaucrat and Billionaire Diplomat Ambassador Chief Antonio Oladeinde Fernandez.
While some praised him for his extra-ordinary achievement in industry, opulence and diplomacy other criticized him for his indifference to home-grown economic development of his country, Nigeria. Some even went as far as labeling him ‘a wicked man who didn’t care much for his own people’. But contrary to such misguided opinions which is now trending on the social media, the highly influential oil and diamond tycoon who died in his Brussels, Belgium home in the early hours of Tuesday, September 1st invested hugely in Nigeria in the 70s but was forced out of business by a mixture of local culture and bad government policy. A tribute by one of Nigeria’s most respected journalists and the only Nigerian journalist who discovered Fernandez, Bashorun (Dr.) Dele Momodu revealed the true story of Fernandez’s apathy for his country’s economic atmosphere. The tribute titled “Tribute To Achievement” and published in the issue 26 of OVATION Magazine edition of September (Funny Enough the same month Fernandez passed to glory) of year 2000 revealed the mystery of the late billionaire’s wealth and relationship with Nigeria. Your soar away Africa’s number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog Asabeafrika brings you the untold story of Fernandez’s run away wealth as described by OVATION Magazine Publisher, Bashorun (Dr.) Dele Momodu. Enjoy! 
Bashorun (Dr.)Dele Momodu
 TRIBUTE TO ACHIEVEMENT
“It is very difficult to imagine how big an achiever our main subject this month is.  In over four years of the existence of OVATION, we have never devoted an entire cover to one man or woman.  What is more, we have NEVER devoted forty pages to one story.  What is even more, we have never written any story in French and Portuguese.
But our cover subject this month deserves a standing OVATION from all Black people around the world, for doing us proud, not just as a billionaire jet-setter but as a proud son of Africa, who has not forgotten his roots, despite his towering personality and achievement.
Fernandez with Mandela & other Heads of state inside his house
The story of Ambassador Chief Antonio Oladeinde Fernandez is like a fairy-tale.  I first heard of him in the 1970s as I grew up in the ancient city of Ile-Ife.  We were all regaled with tales of this giant of a businessman who donated Cadillac limousines to some Yoruba monarchs.  And when I entered the University of Ife in 1978, we were also told of this King Midas who was manufacturing a very small refrigerator, Gorenje, for students at affordable prices.  I would later learn of TOWER FERNANDEZ in the heart of Lagos Island.  I heard a lot more.  And I dreamt of meeting the great name.
Let me confess that my dream is yet to come true.  I am yet to meet this man who stands six foot and six inches tall, a man of stupendous wealth, a diplomat extraordinaire, a charming African King, a man of sartorial taste and style, a quintessential philanthropist who spreads his wealth to his African brothers and sisters like manure, a man of culture, and a man of tradition.
For more than ten years, I searched everywhere for any lead to this rarefied being.  Every time I got close, something went wrong.  Once, someone who claimed to know him well gave me a multitude of telephone numbers to the man in New York and Paris and Geneva.  All the lines rang but no soul ever picked any of them.  I continued to search for this ultimate story, the sort that gives a writer his Magnus Opus.  I never gave up.

“Is that Dele?  This is Fernandez”, a baritone voice boomed in my ears.  I had spoken to the high and mighty, but none was as elusive as this King, a self-made man who has earned the respect of great people in foreign lands”.

The Ambassador Plenipotentiary with ex-UN Secretary General Kofi Anan with the former Prime Minister of Mozambique
One day, a staff of mine came and said he met someone who could link me to FERNANDEZ.  I never believed him.  But as a reporter, I follow every lead, even if it would lead nowhere.  I decided to meet this contact who promised to put in a good word on my behalf.
According to the source “Nigeria has been most unfair to Fernandez.  He wanted to do a lot of things in Nigeria and for Nigerians but he was discouraged and maligned”.  I left all my telephone numbers all over the world for the contact who promised that Chief Fernandez will call me one day”…
The Ambassador Plenipotentiary with his friend, President Nguema Mbasogo of Equitorial Guinea
…And The King Called!
“One evening, I was having a drink with some friends at the NICON HILTON Hotel in Abuja when my phone rang.  An OVATION reporter picked the call.  He then beckoned to me to pick the phone.  I did and the biggest shock of my life occurred.  “Is that Dele?  This is Fernandez”, a baritone voice boomed in my ears.  I had spoken to the high and mighty, but none was as elusive as this King, a self-made man who has earned the respect of great people in foreign lands.

“He did his business openly and he enjoyed his life quietly. He said he would be very delighted if our story could inspire younger people.  For a man who made his first million dollars over forty years ago, this story is a must read and a Collector’s Edition for all young Africans”

Deinde Fernandez with British Diplomat Bob Angel
“Your Excellency, this is a great surprise, sir,” I said, a bit nervous.  He was the last person I expected to speak with that night. He said he got my message, and all the efforts I had made to contact him.  He said he doesn’t seek publicity but he wanted to thank me for my efforts.  “I am told your magazine is very good and that you are very responsible”, he said.  My head was beginning to swell.  I told him I saw his private jet, yacht and New York Island in a Magazine, National Encomium, and would love to visit his home in New York.  He said someone in his family must have given the pictures to the magazine but if I wanted to visit him in New York, it was fine but he won’t grant an interview.
He said he’d arrange for me to visit his Island in New York and his chateau in France.
I promised him that I would love to do a story that will inspire men and women of my generation to show them that if you dream big and work hard, you will make it big, like Fernandez.  He was quite comfortable with my ideas. He promised to ask one of his personal assistants to talk to me about modalities.  The following day a call came through.  The rest is history.
“He bought his first private plane at the age of 25.  The photography wizard would buy one more later. He owns a boat and knows so much about boats.  He has photographed more than enough celebrities around the world”. 
I travelled immediately to London, where I got one of the most accomplished photographers in the world, Colin Ramsay, and he agreed to travel with me to New York.  Colin Ramsay is one man who knows everything about everything.  A former air force pilot, the Scottish man has travelled extensively, all over the world.  He bought his first private plane at the age of 25.  The photography wizard would buy one more later. He owns a boat and knows so much about boats.  He has photographed more than enough celebrities around the world.  He was therefore a perfect choice for the job”.
Deinde Fernandez as Permanent Representative of the United Nations in his Life Time
The Peninsular Plenipotentiary!
“As soon as we landed at John F. Kennedy Airport, we drove straight to the Peninsula, the Premium Point Island outside New York, where Chief Fernandez, his wife, Chief (Mrs.) Aduke Olufunmilayo, and two daughters, Princesses Abimbola and Atinuke, live in a paradise on earth.
Through the assistance of aides, we went round the island and the more we looked the more we discovered.  My photographer, who had photographed Imelda Marcos’ and Liz Taylor’s homes, was clearly intimidated by the sheer beauty and elegance of the home of Fernandez.  He never imagined anyone, let alone an African (no racist intentions) could demonstrate such immense creativity and imagination.  We were booked to spend five days in New York but we started wondering if we could accomplish our mission in five days.


The Ambassador Plenipotentiary with some foreign ambassador friends at a UN event
Chief Fernandez was in Beijing, China, and a few days later, he was in Hong Kong, so we had more time to roam. We worked 12 hours a day before retiring to our hotel rooms, some 30 minutes away.
The highly civilized man allowed us access to every room in that house. During our many telephone conversations, he maintained that he has nothing to hide. He did his business openly and he enjoyed his life quietly. He said he would be very delighted if our story could inspire younger people.  For a man who made his first million dollars over forty years ago, this story is a must read and a Collector’s Edition for all young Africans.  But take this as only Part 1 of our Mini-biography on the Chief.
Before we take you into the story proper, we must note that Nigeria has not been kind to Chief Fernandez.  The country has failed to honor this great son of Africa, in his own homeland.  It is a big SHAME”.

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog

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