The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) have condemned the shutdown of the Dangote Cement factory in Obajana, Kogi state.
Chinyere Almona, LCCI director-general, on Thursday said the decision of the Kogi government to seal off the company’s factory amid an “ownership tussle” sends negative signals to potential foreign investors.
The company had alleged that the Kogi government’s security agents shot seven staff during the invasion.
Almona said the attack is a reflection of the poor handling of investment protection issues in our country.
She said the LCCI believed there are more decent ways to handle regulatory and legislative matters concerning businesses in Nigeria than resorting to violence.
“The invasion of the Dangote Cement factory by youths that led to the shooting of factory workers is unfortunate, ill-construed, and avoidable,” Almona said.
“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 organisations like the Dangote Cement factory.
“The federal government and Kogi state government have hitherto benefited from business revenues and social investments.
“It is therefore expected that the government would be interested in creating an enabling business environment that can attract both local and foreign investors.
“And where there are infractions, handling such should be in accordance with best practices and the rule of law that protect investors’ rights and human lives.”
The LCCI DG recommended a meeting of all government agencies connected with the acquisition of the cement plant to resolve any differences.
She said the process can be taken without necessarily shutting down the factory and endangering jobs, products, and government revenues.
“This point is critical as wrong handling or unprofessional approaches to resolutions can send negative signals to potential foreign investors,” Almona said.
She said the growing mining industry in Kogi state has benefitted from the production activities of the Dangote Cement factory, which offers both infrastructural and corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects to enhance the standard of living in the state.
Almona further urged the presidential enabling business environment council (PEBEC), the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), and the Nigeria Investment Protection Commission (NIPC), to swiftly intervene to resolve the dispute.
Similarly, MAN also condemned the action of the Kogi State government.
Speaking with journalists on Thursday, Mansur Ahmed, MAN president, said it was alarming that a state government could take measures to shut down a plant that had been providing jobs and sustaining economic activities on a very large scale over alleged non-payment of taxes and land ownership issues.
He said if the government has any dispute with any member of the industry, the appropriate thing to do was to take the company to court.
“You can’t use strong-arm tactics to shut them down or impose very severe restrictions on their operations simply to force them. This is illegal. And I believe that what has happened will not happen in any well-managed economic environment,” Ahmed said.
“We have taken up this matter to the ministry of industry and hope they will extend that to relevant authorities. I believe the government will take steps to resolve the matter.”