KOGI GOVT VS DANGOTE- BETTER LATE THAN EVER( Part 1)
By Hon Duro Meseko
I am an indigene of Kogi State. I have the interest of the State at heart. But I must confess, an issue has been bothering so much that sometimes I lose sleep for days- The issue of Dangote Cement and how Kogi practically lost out in the company!
I was tormented by this sad reality almost on daily basis until last week when the State Government took the bull by the horn and sealed the cement factory, citing irregularities in the processes leading to the so-called 100 percent acquisition of the shares or stakes of the initial Obajana Cement owned by Kogi State Government.
I have not stopped dancing till this moment.
The Obajana debacle did not start today.
I was a Secretariat Staff of the Blueprint Committee set up during the early days of Former Governor Idris Wada’s administration in 2011. And part of the Committee’s brief then was to look into how Obajana Cement was acquired by Dangote, what percentage shares accrued to the state, how much had been paid to the State and so on and so forth.
Officials of the Ministry of Justice that appeared before the Committee to brief it on these details shocked members when they confessed they could not lay their hands on a single document linking the state with Dangote Cement as necessary documents, according to these officials, had mysteriously disappeared! I was astounded by the revelation.
It was therefore a jackpot of some sort for me when I learnt that Governor Yahaya Bello had decided to fight back to get what rightly belongs to Kogi people.
For daring to thread this noble path, the White Lion as the Governor is fondly called has scored a Bullseye. And this may perhaps stand as one of his administration’s most profound achievements at the end of the day.
I have heard the hues and cries from the side of Dangote Group especially the highly provocative “we own Dangote Cement 100 Percent” submission and could not but ask the Million Dollar Question- What has Kogi gained from the acquisition of Obajana Cement till date? Is it procedurally feasible for a whole Cement factory belonging to the State to be sold under the table without any official document? Ok, let us even agree without conceding that Dangote bought over Obajana Cement from Kogi State Government, how much did he pay? And into which of the State’s accounts? What percentage of taxes has Dangote Cement being paying to the State? I can go on and on.
Truth is, the earlier Dangote comes clean on this matter, the better for all the parties concerned.
How on earth could a company as massive as Dangote Cement Factory operate in Kogi and for the State not to have anything to show for it?
It has simply being a case of tears and sorrows for the citizenry daily traumatised by Dangote Cement trailers driven by drivers who would block the highways
at will, kill/maim innocent souls at will with their recklessness on the wheels among others.
In the coming days, I would be examining and providing more details on the sad story of the acquisition of Obajana Cement for Nigerians and the world at large to know the naked truth, including the collusion of some government functionaries in the show of shame!
Duro Meseko, former member, House of Representatives is a journalist and Public Affairs Analyst