With barely a month to the 2003 presidential election in Nigeria, Funsho Kupolokun, the Special Assistant to then President Olusegun Obasanjo hurriedly put together a bid round for three oil blocks – OPLs 223, 251, and 257. At the end of the bid round in which only Elf Petroleum (Nigeria) Ltd, ExxonMobil Ltd, Vintage Oil and Gas, and ECL International Ltd participated, ExxonMobil and Vintage Oil and Gas were jointly awarded OPL 257 while ECL International Ltd got OPL 251. OPL 223 was not awarded to any company. A House of Representatives committee which investigated those allocations five years later described the bid as “curious” because it was done three years after the introduction of the principle of open, competitive bidding. Also, none of the blocks was listed as being on offer in a report of the Committee on the Evaluation of Bids for the Year 2000 Licensing Rounds. […]