The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria MAN, on has urged the Federal Government to take urgent steps to amicably resolve the dispute between Dangote Cement PLC Plant, Obajana and the Kogi Government over land ownership. Mr Mansur Ahmed, the MAN President, made the plea while briefing newsmen in Lagos, on the association’s 50th Annual General Meeting with the theme: “An Agenda for Nigeria’s Industrialisation for the Next Decade”. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Dangote Cement Factory, Obajana, was on Wednesday sealed by some indigenes over alleged questionable circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the company. The Kogi State House of Assembly had ordered the closure of the company after its investigation into the Cement factory’s operation allegedly revealed that no valid acquisition took place for the company. The management of Dangote Cement had claimed that no fewer than seven of its staff members were shot and several others injured by the over 500 armed members of the state’s security outfit, the Vigilantes, that stormed the cement factory.
Ahmed described the development as “worrisome and unnecessary use of strong-arm tactics”. According to him, the action taken by the state government was illegitimate and could have been appropriately addressed, using legal means. “The development is very worrisome that a government should take measures like that to shutdown a plant that provides jobs and economic activities of large numbers of people in the state. The appropriate thing to do is to take the company to court, because this action is illegal and won’t happen in any normally managed economic situation. There are ways of resolving amicably and not to use strong-arm tactics. We hope the Federal Government will intervene so that such an issue is not repeated,” he said. Ahmed also urged the government to reconsider its position on increasing excise duty on nonalcoholic and other beverages. He said that the situation was detrimental to manufacturing competitiveness in the face of inflation. “Increasing excise duty would on compound the inflation situation as you do not increase tax when the economy is contracting.
“In raising new revenue, you need to be sure that you don’t undermine the revenue process itself by putting so much pressure on those paying taxes. Excise duty would increase cost significantly and given the current inflation situation, it’s not worth it,” he said. On the association’s theme at the 50th AGM, the MAN president said it was borne out of the need to take stock of the nation’s journey to industrialisation. Ahmed said the event would also ascertain the pains and pain-points; to highlight the performance limiters; recognise the gains and growth milestones and to identify the learning curves and hurdles ahead. He said that all these would craft a robust agenda for resetting industrialisation, albeit manufacturing in Nigeria. The significance of an electioneering year further propels us to bring to the consciousness of aspiring leaders of the nation the importance of a virile manufacturing sector. Over the years, the performance of the manufacturing sector has been constrained by numerous familiar challenges that are clearly espoused in our numerous presentations and submissions to the government. It is indeed a matter of great concern to our members that even, as our economy continue to experience very slow growth, our policy makers at all levels continue to compound the situation by introducing new taxes, further worsening the difficult and high-cost operating environment. In some climes, when the economy slows down, government reduce taxes to encourage businesses to expand, create more jobs and increase economic activities. What we are seeing in Nigeria today is not only increasing tax rate, but introducing new taxes and turning every public agency into a revenue collector. In the midst of the challenges, we are resilient and soldier on with our advocacy for a conducive atmosphere for the operation of manufacturing business in Nigeria.
“We continue to work toward ensuring that Nigeria becomes an environment that promotes competitiveness,” he said. Ahmed said that Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President, Dangote Group, would be the Guest Speaker at the event. He added that President Muhammadu Buhari and Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment would be the Special Guest and Guest of honour respectively. “The programme will, as usual, run for three days from Oct. 17 to Oct. 19 at the Lagos Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island. The background of the current manufacturing situation informed our choice of our distinguished Guest Speaker, who in his own right, has seen it all in manufacturing and can better point the way forward for the country’s leadership. He is also able to lead other members in charting a new course for the manufacturing sector. The speaker is an experienced industrialists, who speaks the language of Nigerian manufacturers and have had his own share of immense successes in Nigeria and Africa,” he said.