Dangote: Shareholders knock Kogi, group alleges exploitation


The tug of war between Dangote Cement Plc and the Kogi State government has taken yet another twist as certain interest groups from the organised private sector as well as students of Kogi origin have waded into the conflict.

While the interest groups have condemned the state government for deploying strong-arm tactics to bully the company into submission, the students, on the other hand, hailed the actions of the state government, pledging to support the contention of the ownership of the cement plant even to the highest courts of the land.

Reacting, a group of shareholders’ associations in Nigeria and other interest groups have condemned the Kogi State Government over its harassment of Dangote Cement Plc with regard to the ownership of the Obajana Cement Plant.

The shareholders urged the Federal Government to urgently intervene and prevail on the government of Kogi State to stop further harassment of investors to avoid a complete loss of investors’ confidence in the state.

President of the Association for the Advancement of the Rights of Shareholders, Dr. Umar Faruk, while speaking on the development, criticised the state government for shutting down a company providing employment opportunities and economic empowerment for the local community of Obajana.

He said, “Why should the governor of a state in Nigeria, mobilise vigilantes to seal a publicly quoted company? The same Governor did exactly the same thing to First Bank, making the bank close some of its branches in the state. Is that not executive rascality, using the state assembly to commit such an atrocious act?”

Similarly, founder of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria and President of Boys Brigade Nigeria, Sir Sunny Nwosu, said the state government ought to have deployed diplomacy and due process by using judiciary means to bring the company to book rather than resort to extra-judicial means.

Also, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry faulted the government of Kogi State over its recent invasion of the Dangote cement plant in Obajana.

LCCI, in a statement signed by its Director-General, Dr Chinyere Almona, described the news of the attack on the Dangote Cement Plant as shocking and disappointing.

According to West Africa’s first Chamber of Commerce, the attack was a reflection of the poor handling of investment protection issues in the country.

It noted that there were more decent ways to handle regulatory and legislative matters concerning businesses in Nigeria than resorting to violence.

The statement read in part, “The invasion of the Dangote Cement Factory by youths that led to the shooting of factory workers is unfortunate, ill-construed, and avoidable. We advocate a win-win situation for businesses and the government. We will therefore call on all parties to exercise caution and be protective of jobs, assets of production, and government revenues from corporate organizations like Dangote Cement Factory.”

On its part, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture said it was vital to note that Obajana was a huge production plant supplying key domestic inputs (cement) into the economy and employing hundreds of thousands of Nigerians directly and indirectly.

However, undergraduates, under the aegis of the National Association of Kogi State Students, have thrown their full weight behind the state government.

In a statement signed by the National President, NAKOSS National, and Chairperson, Council of 36 States Student Presidents (CSSP), Rachael Mojirola Balogun, the students alleged that the Dangote Group had, for long, carried out devastating economic injustice on the people of the state.

According to the natives of the state, drawn across tertiary institutions of learning in the country, the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, and the state House of Assembly should be commended for insisting on correcting what they described as “the age-long economic intimidation and exploitation by the Dangote Group.”

They accused Dangote of unfairly exploiting the state for years, with many either dying daily from environmental hazards arising from the Company’s activities in the area or in the hands of its reckless drivers.

The statement read in part, “As indigenes of Kogi State, we affirm that the Government of Kogi State, under Alhaji Yahaya Bello, should be commended for demanding evidence of a strange agreement that delivered our birth rights, 100 per cent, on a platter of gold to Dangote Group, despite the fact that Obajana Cement Factory was established and nurtured by the Kogi State Government until Dangote offered to partner with the state.

“There are documents already in the public domain detailing the economic injustice carried out against the Kogi people in view of an investment that has not for one day benefitted them.”

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