The Kogi State government has directed the Dangote Group to shut down its cement factory in Obajana within the next 48 hours in honor of the State House of Assembly, which ordered the company to seal until the conglomerate provided the legislature with the necessary documents, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
Unfortunately, thousands of indigenous Kogi people rely on the firm for a living. And, by all appearances, the state government seems unconcerned with that suggestion.
Yesterday, the state government issued the instruction under the guise of upholding the state house of assembly’s resolution.
Since the outset of the conflict between the state government and Dangote Industries, many in the business world have been perplexed by its reliance on self-help and muscling tactics. Coming from a state with little private sector has perplexed many observers of Kogi’s developments, who believe this may be an apparent shakedown of the Dangote Group.
The government’s determination to carry out the State Assembly’s resolution is unprecedented in the state, especially under the current administration. It is not known if it has ever enforced a resolution approved by the same Assembly. Its decision to close such a huge factory in its domain, which is at the heart of the nation’s economy, is sure to damage investors’ trust in the country and raises troubling questions about the country’s adherence to due process of law in conflict resolution.
Generally, Assembly resolutions are consultative and have no legal effect, but the state government is going over and beyond to enforce the resolution this time.
The instruction to close the cement company was contained in a press statement signed by the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, and made available to journalists in Lokoja yesterday.
The Governor of Kogi State praised the people of the state in the statement for “their tenacity in the ownership dispute between the Dangote Group and the state government.”
“While the state administration recognizes citizens’ right to peaceful protest, as we experienced across the state yesterday,” it said, “we urge the people to stay civil, law abiding, and give place for constitutionalism.” Law and order breakdown would not serve anyone’s interests as we strive to remain Nigeria’s most peaceful state.
“To that end, the governor has commanded that trucks carrying cement that have been seized around the state be freed immediately so that they can either return to the facility or travel to their destinations peacefully.”
“As a state, we must maintain the tranquil and business-friendly environment that has drawn scores of investment behemoths to the state over the last seven years.”
Furthermore, the governor urged the Dangote Group’s management to “ensure that the cement factory at Obajana is shut down within the next 48 hours in honor of the legislative arm of government, which ordered the plant sealed until the Dangote Group furnishes the legislature with the requisite documents demanded by the legislature.”
“We shall defend and safeguard all government institutions from impunity as a government.” The governor also wishes to reassure the people of the state of his steadfast commitment to defending their interests without regard for political expediency. As the face of the battle, he will ensure that the interests of the state are defended with a strong sense of integrity, responsibility, and allegiance using democratic means.
“We urge the people to stay peaceful and law-abiding, as well as to have faith in the governor’s leadership to carry out the people’s mandate to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.” We also urge security personnel to be on high alert in order to avert disorder in the face of the people’s rage against exploitation and oppression. We can only win this battle if we keep our cool. “When our people come together like this, we can only win,” the message continued.