The National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has criticised the Kogi State Government over the closure of Dangote Cement, Obajana Plant, describing the action as hasty.
This is also as the Lagos and Abuja branches of the chamber, in separate statements, described the action of the state governor, Yahaya Bello as “shocking and disappointing”, regretting that for every day the factory is shut, millions of naira is lost, with the reputation of Kogi State taking a negative hit.
NACCIMA regretted that the dispute between the company and the state over tax ought not to have led to sealing the company but resolved in a conciliatory atmosphere.
The body, in a statement signed by Olusola Obadimu, the director-general, said the state government should have trodden a path of caution and called for the immediate reopening of the factory for normal production activities to resume.
Obadimu stated that NACCIMA’s position was based on some key considerations bordering on the impact of the factory’s closure on the economy and thousands of people whose means of livelihood depend on the production activities of the factory.
“It is vital to note that it is a huge production plant that supplies key domestic input (cement) to the economy and employs thousands of Nigerians, directly and indirectly. This is aside from its substantial budget for corporate social responsibility outside of taxes.
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“Shutting down the factory does not help the controversial issue of compliance on tax remittance to the Kogi State Government. Rather, a continuous operation of the plant would more likely facilitate a faster resolution of the dispute,” he said.
The NACCIMA boss urged that the factory be reopened as quickly as possible to enable it continue its operation and fulfill its necessary responsibilities, not just on tax obligations, but also keep Nigerians in direct and indirect employment dutifully engaged; while sustaining its crucial services not just to the people and government of Kogi State but Nigeria in general.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), in its statement signed by Chinyere Almona, its director-general, said the attack on the cement factory reflected the poor handling of investment protection issues in the country.
The chamber said there were more decent ways to handle regulatory and legislative matters with businesses in Nigeria than resorting to violence. According to the chamber, 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, 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”, she added.
The LCCI boss noted that the Federal and Kogi State Governments had hitherto benefited from business revenues and social investments by the Dangote Group, and “it’s therefore expected that the government would be interested in creating an enabling 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.”