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When Things Fall Apart - the Nigeria-Pan Trinbago Steelpan Partnership

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

by When Steel Talks

In an exclusive interview for When Steel Talks, Mary Ehikhamenor, PA to the CEO of the Africa-Trinidad & Tobago Steelpan Development Company, Ltd. (ATTSDC) - gives insight into the situation which has led to the dissolution of the original business partnership between Pan Trinbago and Xcel Steelpan Co. Ltd., which gave rise to the ATTSDC.


The following exclusive interview is a follow up to an official communiqué received from the office of the ATTSDC.  For full context, review that communiqué here.  Mary Ehikhamenor, PA to CEO Chief Bowie S. Bowei, has worked closely alongside and recorded events that transpired from ATTSDC’s inception, and responds on the authority of Bowei, who is currently on business in Europe.

WST - Who, or which individual/individuals in Pan Trinbago do you hold specifically responsible for the demise of ATTSDC (Africa-Trinidad & Tobago Steelpan Development Company, Ltd.)?

ATTSDC -  “Since Pan Trinbago is an entity represented by an executive body, I will rather hold the entire [set of] executives responsible.  Pointing fingers at this time may be misread.”

WST - Were there any shortcomings on your own part?

ATTSDC - “There were no shortcomings on the part of Xcel Steelpan Co., Ltd. and on the part of Chief Bowei.  He did everything to the best of his ability and never got any complaint whatsoever from Pan Trinbago, regarding any shortcomings from him.

WST - Were officials from the Trinidad and Tobago government itself also involved with, and/or legally committed to, this project/venture?

ATTSDC - There was no legal involvement from officials of [the] Trinidad and Tobago government. To the best of my knowledge and from records shown, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was only involved in the launch of the company.

WST - And were any officials from the Nigerian government involved?

ATTSDC - Same as [the] government of Trinidad & Tobago, there was no involvement from the Nigerian government. The High Commission of Nigeria in Trinidad however attended the launch.

WST - How much paperwork is involved with the breaking-up of this partnership?  Are there any penalties?

ATTSDC - “Very little paperwork is involved [with the breaking-up], because very little paperwork was involved in setting it up in the first place. No official receipt or Share certificate was given to Pan Trinbago - so officially, they own NO shares in the company. However, the company’s lawyers are in court in Nigeria to tidy up the dissolution.”

WST - At what point was it obvious that things were not going as planned, or agreed upon?

ATTSDC - “From the onset things had never gone right from the Pan Trinbago end. Correspondences sent are never responded to, the entire vision of the company was not understood by Pan Trinbago, no financial and technical support was provided, and above all, Pan Trinbago kept doing Pan business in Nigeria with the Military, and other Nigerian businessmen in Trinidad, who have no idea of what Pan is all about - without the knowledge of Chief Bowei.”

WST - Was the beginning of anything, any ATTSDC project(s) implemented?  Is any initiative currently underway?

ATTSDC - “Nothing initiated by ATTSDC was carried out. All the ideas came from Xcel Steelpan Co., Ltd., but were inherited by ATTSDC. Absolutely nothing went on or was implemented, and when support for the kick-off of our tertiary education project [in Nigeria] was sought from Pan Trinbago, again, it was denied; and this led to the failure of that project again. The actual fact is there was no company existing. Pan Trinbago only talks about it when they need to do some form of political campaigning, and when they go back, they tie up the file and lock it up again.”

WST - There were vacancies advertised internationally for jobs in ATTSDC.  Were people hired in this regard, and what becomes of their positions?  Who is responsible for their present situation due to this dissolving of the partnership, and financial arrangements?

ATTSDC - “Yes, people were hired based on the advertisement. Their jobs remain valid as the company still exists, but without Pan Trinbago and FCL.

“Chief Bowei has all along, been responsible for the payment of these staff, as capitalization of the company from the so-called shareholders was denied.”

WST - Will there be any other joint Trinidad & Tobago/Nigeria ventures in the future?  Maybe with the private sector?

ATTSDC - “Definitely yes. The Chief’s recent visit to Trinidad was to seal up deals with a number of tuners coming to Nigeria in October of this year, and also in February 2013. Arrangers, Pan tutors and Music producers also had meetings with Chief Bowei and the company will go ahead with only private arrangements in Trinidad.”

WST - Was this venture too ambitious?

ATTSDC - “No it was not. It was and still is a very viable project that would have brought about multiple positive ripple effects in the development and growth of Pan in Africa.”

WST - What did you learn from this experience?

ATTSDC - “Follow your dreams without getting others directly involved. They may not share your dreams, and get it [dreams] killed.”

WST - What’s in the future for you and your company?

ATTSDC - “To start from where it was left when Pan Trinbago came on board, and push it to where we hope to reach, with other Panmen.”

WST - It is close to the end of this year - is there a Nigeria Steelband Panorama planned before the end of 2012?

ATTSDC - “Panorama will come up in 2013. A lot of damage has been done and has to be fixed for our projects to commence again.”

More on the ATTSDC

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