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Dangote: Our acquisition of Obajana Cement plant followed Due Process

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Nasiru Yusuf

 

 

The management of Dangote Industries Limited has insisted that its acquisition of the Obajana Cement Plc in 2002 followed due process, contrary to claims by the Kogi State government.

KANO FOCUS reports that the conglomerate asserted that Kogi State government has no equity interest in Obajana Cement Plc.

It also stated that the company as a responsible corporate organisation has been paying relevant State taxes, levies and charges to the Kogi State government since 2007 when production commenced in the acquired cement plant.

These clarifications were contained in a statement issued by the management of Dangote Industries Limited titled ‘Obajana Cement Plant: Separating Facts from Fiction.’

According to the statement, “This is a statement issued for the sole purpose of addressing the concerns and apprehensions of the stakeholders of Dangote Cement Plc (DCP) especially the over twenty-two thousand people it employs directly, and more indirectly, as well as thousands of contractors, wholesalers, users of our products, our financiers and shareholders.

“At a time of significant economic challenges that we face as a nation, we believe all must be done to keep our economy running effectively, our people employed, businesses that depend on us thriving and not discourage those who take the risks of needed, lawful and significant investments in our economy. The shutdown of our plant has materially jeopardised the economic wellbeing of our country without any regard for its significant consequences.

“Whilst reserving our rights to proceed to arbitration in accordance with the extant agreement, we have reported the unlawful invasion by KSG and the consequential adverse effects of same to all the relevant authorities, including the Federal Government of Nigeria who has now intervened in the matter. It is hoped that the dispute resolution process we have initiated will quickly resolve the disputes and allow us to focus on our business without distraction and continue our significant contribution to our national economy. It is in this context that we state in brief as follows”, the company added.

According to the statement, “The Obajana Cement Plant is one of the most critical components of economic activity in the nation, being one of the highest taxpayers, and vehicle for one of the largest companies invested in by thousands of Nigerian and foreign investors. Its most important assets are (1) its land, the plant and machinery thereon, and (2) the vast limestone deposit covered by mining leases issued under licence by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).”

The company clarified that the land on which Obajana Cement Plant is built was solely acquired by Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) in 2003.

“The land on which the Obajana Cement Plant is built was acquired solely by Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) in 2003, well after it had acquired the shares in Obajana Cement Company in 2002, following the legally binding agreement it entered into with KSG to invest in Kogi State. DIL was issued three Certificates of Occupancy in its name after payment of necessary fees and compensation to landowners.

“The plant and machinery were conceived, designed, procured, built, and paid for solely by DIL, again, well after it acquired the shares in Obajana Cement Company. The limestone and other minerals used by the Obajana Cement Plant, by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution belonged to the Federation, with authority only in the FGN and not the State in which the minerals are situated, to grant licences to extract and mine the resources”, the company explained.

“After the agreement with the KSG, DIL applied for and obtained mining leases over the said limestone from FGN, at its cost and has complied with the terms of the leases since inception. The Government of Kogi State had no minerals to give, had no assets to give, and only invited DIL as most responsible governments do to come into the State and invest in a manner that will create employment, develop the State, and earn it taxes”, the statement added.

In a section of the statement titled, ‘The Incorporation of OCP and the Invitation by KSG’, the company noted that, “In 1992, the Kogi State Government incorporated Obajana Cement PLC (OCP) as a public limited liability company. Sometime in early 2002, about 10 years after the incorporation of the OCP (which still had no assets or operations as of that time), KSG invited Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) to take the opportunity of the significant limestone deposit in the State by establishing a cement plant in the State.

“Following several engagements and assessment of the viability of the proposed opportunity, DIL agreed that it would establish a cement plant in Kogi State and provide the entirety of the substantial capital required for the investment.

“DIL also agreed, following a specific request by KSG, to use the OCP name (albeit only existing on paper as of that time, and without any assets or operations) for the time being, as the vehicle for this investment. On 30 July 2002, KSG and DIL entered into a binding agreement to document their understanding. The agreement was amended in 2003 and remains binding on, and legally enforceable by, the parties to same,” the statement explained.

On the issue of an Agreement between Dangote and Kogi State Government, the statement gave a summary. It noted that “it was agreed, inter alia, that: DIL would establish a cement plant with a capacity of 3,500,000 metric tonnes per annum; DIL shall hold 100% of the shareholding in OCP, and source for all the funds required to develop the cement plant; KSG shall have the option to acquire 5% equity shareholding in OCP within 5 years; and KSG shall grant tax relief and exemption from levies and other charges by KSG for a period of seven (7) years from the date of commencement of production.

“Consistent with the terms of agreement, DIL sourced for 100% of the funds that was used to develop the plant without any contribution from KSG. In line with its rights, ensuring alignment with the Dangote Brand, as part of internal restructuring and for better market recognition the name of OCP was changed to Dangote Cement Plc in 2010, and a number of other significant cement companies (such as the Benue Cement Company) owned by DIL were merged with OCP to become the enlarged Dangote Cement Plc”, the statement added.

On the issues of ‘Execution of the Agreement: The Plant, Taxes, Shares & Dividends’, the statement noted, “DIL assiduously and at significant cost met all the terms of the agreement between it and KSG in relation to OCP. It built the cement factory, much bigger and better than envisaged.

“KSG could not meet its financial obligations of contributing to the funding the plant in any form; neither could KSG fund acquisition of 5% equity shares in OCP when it was asked on a number of occasions to exercise the purchase option.

“KSG also did not meet its obligations to grant waiver of taxes, charges and levies that it could charge the operations, affairs and activities of OCP. Rather despite being entitled (under the terms of the agreement with KSG) to tax relief and exemption from charges and levies by KSG for a period of seven (7) years from the date of commencement of production, OCP (and now DCP) has paid all due sub-sovereign taxes, levies and charges to KSG since it commenced production in 2007.

“KSG does not have any form of investment or equity stake in OCP, so no dividend or other economic and/or shareholding rights whatsoever could have accrued to it from the operations of the company”, the statement added.

On the issue of the Acquisition of the Plant Site, the statement noted that, “After the agreement between DIL and KSG in 2002, DIL in 2003, applied to KSG for the acquisition of land for the plant site, and this application was granted with the issuance of three Certificates of Occupancy to DIL. DIL to the knowledge of KSG, paid substantive compensation to Obajana Farmland Owners located within the two (2) square kilometres plant site.

“Subsequently, in September 2004, DIL, in good faith, applied to the State Governor for the statutory consent for DIL to assign the plant site to OCP being DIL’s investment vehicle. This consent request was granted by the State Governor and the appropriate consent fees were paid by DIL”, it added.

Shedding more light on the company’s engagement with Kogi State Government, the statement explained that, “The investment of DIL in Kogi State through OCP was at the instance of the duly constituted government of Kogi State, done in accordance with the law of the State and all enabling laws in that regard, and the transaction documents were effectively, lawfully and duly executed by the Governor and Attorney General of the State (at the time), after internal approvals were obtained within the government.

“Since the inception of Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s administration in 2016, and regardless that government is a continuum, we have had series of enquiries about the ownership structure of the Dangote Cement PLC as it relates to the alleged interest of KSG; and had several engagements with the officers of the State government including Governor Yahaya Bello. At all of these engagements we have provided all the details and information supported by relevant documents, required by the Government and the State House of Assembly to confirm our lawful investment.

“For instance, in 2017, we were invited by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, and we made our submission to the commission with relevant documents to support our position. We are yet to receive any feedback from the Judicial Commission of Inquiry. While still waiting to hear of the report of the Inquiry, we were invited by the State House of Assembly on the same matter earlier this year, and again, we provided evidence in support of our position that KSG does not have any equity or other interest in OCP or DCP.

“On Wednesday 5 October 2022, hundreds of dangerously armed men, other than law enforcement officers, attacked our cement plant in Obajana, Kogi State, destroyed our property, inflicted grievous injuries on many of our employees, and shutdown operations at the plant. KSG has admitted that the armed invaders acted on its instructions, and in furtherance of the recent enquiry by the Kogi State House of Assembly in connection with the ownership of the Obajana Cement Plant.

“Curiously, on 6 October 2022, a day after the shutdown of our facility in Obajana on the orders of KSG, Governor Bello addressed the public and announced that a Specialised Technical Committee which was set up as part of the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry had just presented its recommendations, which have been accepted by KSG. This statement makes it abundantly clear that the shutdown of DCP’s plant occurred regardless of the Governor’s own confirmation that implementation of the recommendations of the Specialised Technical Committee was still pending”, the statement noted.

Focusing on the current state of play, the company said, “Whilst we do not want to speculate on the motivation for the spurious claims being made by KSG in relation to the ownership of the Company, which have resulted in the unfortunate unlawful forcible closure and damage of our plant, and injury of several people, we condemn in strongest possible terms, the unlawful shutdown of our plant by KSG sponsored armed-thugs, the damage to our property (including the looting of large sum of money kept in the office), and grievous injury inflicted on our employees by them.

“This disruption of operations at the plant has caused loss of revenue not only to our company and its customers but has also adversely impacted revenue due to both the Federal and State governments. It has also occasioned loss of jobs for the teeming youths who are daily paid workers that throng our plant for their daily sustenance. Appealing for overall peace and calm,” the statement noted.

“We implore all our stakeholders, namely shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees, and the entire community of Obajana and Kogi State at large to remain calm while we follow the legitimate and lawful process to resolve this matter. We shall keep our stakeholders duly updated whilst we remain confident that the statutory and contractual rights of DIL shall be upheld by these legal processes which we have initiated.”

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How KaLMA boost learning outcomes in Kano state

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Students in classroom

Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

The Kano Maths and Literacy Accelerator (KaLMA) has boosted learning outcomes in 181 schools across Wudil and Dawakin Tofa local government areas.

KANO FOCUS reports that between January and August 2021, when in-person teaching resumed, the number of primary school children with foundational skills in Hausa and maths grew by 18 per cent, and in English by 11 per cent.

The programme’s impact on lower-level skills was even more significant, rising by 37 per cent in Hausa, 36 per cent in maths, and 39 per cent in English.

Students in classroom

The programme has already reached over 37,000 children and 1,200 teachers. Plans are now in place to extend its impact to 450 schools and 3,000 more teachers in five other government areas of Kano.

Some of the parents said they are impressed with the way they see children from KaLMA implementation schools doing KaLMA activities at home and in the communities.’

They revealed that “Children were not reading in our schools, but they are doing so now in schools with the coming of KaLMA.”

Teacher in classroom

KaLMA is supporting children in Kano state, to build the foundational and language skills they need to succeed.

Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, KaLMA is a partnership between the British Council, Kano State Universal Basic Education Board, the Ministry of Education, Sa’adatu Rimi College of Education, and Teaching at the Right Level Africa.

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How gender stereotyping hampers girl child education in Jemagu town

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

 

The trauma of not being able to get husbands after higher education has continued to discourage many parents in Jemagu from sending their girls to school, most especially as their boys hardly go beyond secondary school.

KANO FOCUS reports that in Jemagu town Warawa Local Government Area of Kano State, girls hardly go beyond secondary school because they would find it very difficult to marry as their men don’t usually go for those who go beyond that level.

Men in Jemagu believe that girls who go beyond secondary school would have experienced some social life that would make them very difficult to control. Residents said their children’s education, especially the girls, began and ended in Jemagu primary and secondary schools.

Babangida Adamu is among the men in Jemagu who believe that it is not proper to marry a girl who has gone beyond secondary school. He added that girls who acquire higher education would not like to marry men who have no formal education.

Babangida Adamu

“The truth is that any woman who acquired higher education would not like to marry a man with lower education. I will also not marry a girl who has university degree because I do not have a degree. This is why most men will not like to marry girls with higher education,” Adamu said.

A 25-year-old Khadija Muhammad Jemagu, who recently obtained a diploma in Marketing from the Kano State Polytechnic but does not have government job or husband, said she had resorted to helping a non-governmental organisation to promote girl-child education in her community. She believes there is the need to intensify awareness among parents on the importance of girl-child education.

According to Khadija, many people have told her that since she has chosen western education, it would be difficult for any man in her village to come close to her because the men believe that she is wiser than any man that may be willing to marry her since most of them do not have more than secondary education.

“Even before I finished my diploma, many people would go about saying that since my father had chosen to send us to school, they would see who would come and marry us. And for several years I have been living like this because in this our village, no man has ever come to me with marriage proposal, simply because I have a diploma,” she said.

Jemagu primary school

But despite this belief in Jemagu, some girls like Hussaina Muhammad are still trying to obtain a certificate on education, but there is no man within the community willing to marry her at the moment. She, however, insists that her educational ambition is a priority.

But Hussaina believes she can still get a husband within or outside her community provided she becomes well educated. She vowed that insult and discrimination from men within her village would not discourage her ambition.

“After secondary school, I started my National Certificate in Education (NCE) programme here in Warawa, but you know the belief our people. They see us as prostitutes; therefore, no one will come to offer his hand in marriage to us. But I will not be discouraged because I believe that whenever it is time for me to marry, God will definitely bring a husband for me,” she said.

Zainab Makera was able to get married after secondary school. She wants to proceed but is faced with a difficult choice – to further her education or stay with her husband. She said she had been trying to convince her husband to allow her continue but she was told that if she really wanted to continue with her education, she had to get divorced.

Zainab Makera

Meanwhile, few women who were able to convince their husbands to allow them proceed beyond secondary school “are constantly being rejected by community members,” said Hussaina.

According to education authorities in Warawa Local Government, this belief is not the only problem affecting girl-child education in Jemagu.

Lack of commitment by parents, especially mothers, may have worsened the situation over the years.

“There are several reasons why girls don’t go to school frequently; few of them have to do with the attitude of their parents, especially women who often sent their female children for hawking and other domestic works that stop them from attending classes,” said Munnir Muhammad, an education secretary in Warawa.

On the issue of girls not being able to get husbands after attending higher institution at Jemagu, Munnir believes that the problem is not only in Jemagu or Warawa Local Government.

“It is a general societal problem in northern Nigeria, where men, especially those with formal education usually reject women with higher education. Additionally, the government is working with parents-teachers associations, mothers associations and other relevant stakeholders to improve girl-child education in Warawa Local Government.”

Jemagu town, Warawa local government area

Meanwhile, residents said apart from poverty among the local community, lack of awareness by government authorities and poor education infrastructure, the problem of water supply in Jemagu village is forcing many children, especially girls, to skip school because they have to travel long distance to fetch water for the house. But government authorities assured that the problem of water supply in this village would soon be a thing of the past.

While recognising the threat of rejecting girls beyond secondary school as a major problem affecting girl-child education in the area, the caretaker chairman of Warawa Local Government, Lamido Sanusi, acknowledged that the problem of water is another major issue at Jemagu village. He said their ambition was to ensure that every girl-child is educated from primary school to university level without any form of discrimination across all villages and towns of Warawa Local Government.

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Hajj 2024: Kano asks NAHCON to reverse BTA issuance via card

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

 

The Director General of Kano State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Lamin Rabi’u Danbappa has described as unjustified, the decision of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, to pay part of the Basic Travel Allowance, BTA, for this year’s Hajj via payment card.

KANO FOCUS reports that the DG made the call at a meeting to discuss the issue pertaining the BTA at he board’s headquarters on Thursday.

It will be recalled that NAHCON had issues a directive to state pilgrims boards pilgrims to pay $200 BTA in cash, while the remaining $300 will be accessible by the pilgrims via card in Saudi Arabia.

In a statement by the board’s spokesman, Suleman Abdullahi Dederi, Danbappa pointed out that “many pilgrims come from rural areas and may not be familiar with using cards to access their funds in Saudi Arabia.”

Danbappa therefore called on the NAHCON to reconsider this decision, noting that “it imposes additional hardships on the pilgrims, who are already facing challenges due to the high Hajj fare this year.

“The Director General emphasized that requiring pilgrims to use cards in Saudi Arabia could lead to numerous problems during the Hajj exercises.

“He stressed that the BTA is intended to assist pilgrims and should not be a cause of confusion or difficulty,” the statement reads in part.

He urged the relevant authorities to ensure that the BTA is provided in a manner that genuinely assists the pilgrims, without complicating their experience.

The statement added that the Chairman Board of Directors of the Kano State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Yusuf Lawan, led the meeting to discuss the issue pertaining to the BTA.

Lawan stated that the board had recently received a directive from the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria regarding the BTA process.

According to the directive, pilgrims will receive only $200 in cash, while the remaining $300 will be accessible via card in Saudi Arabia.

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