By Erasmus Ikhide
IN 2016, Alhaji Aliko Dangote got $2b dollars allocation from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by processing form ‘A’ for intangible goods. He got the dollars at the cheapest rate, moved it out of the country to buy equipment to establish factories in other African countries, and there was no earthquakes under his feet.
The smart man simply round-tripped with the dollars and made several more billion dollars from it and averted his gaze cheerfully. Those at the apex bank in charge of business racketeering got their fair shares of the luscious sleaze in percentages, dusted their foots and moved on.
That is the problem with Nigerian successive governments and its leadership of the country. They are perpetually delusional to the point that, they believe when they support a few cabals and economy predators like Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who can hide their illicit dirty stolen money from the prying eyes of the media, the country would be better off. That’s extreme reductionism at its summit.
In a letter dated 28th of January 2021, addressed to Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the then Minister of Trade and Power, signed by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman, Dangote Industries Limited and Mr John Coumantaros, Chairman, Flour Mills Plc, both dominant billionaire business giants, sought for the exclusion of other Nigerians from participating on equal terms in the same businesses in which they’re involved in.
On the 8th of September, 2009, Tariff and Trade Headquarters of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) having thoroughly investigated Dangote Cement financial fraud and its operations outside the laws governing important of cement wrote the company thus:
CIRCULAR NO.017/2009, IMMEDIATE STOPPAGE OF CLEARANCE OF IMPORTED BAGGED CEMENT:
“I am directed to remind you of the expiration of the concession granted you by Mr. President for the importations of Bagged Cement which was for one year only and thus elapsed by December 2008.
“2. In view of the above, you’re hereby directed to stop the clearance of imported bagged cement, including those presently undergoing clearance, immediately.
“3. In addition, you are to furnish Headquarters with all details relating to the shipment of bagged cement that were cleared this year through our command indicating the ones that were cleared after expiration of the concession but were granted Presidential approval because they were waiting discharge.
“4. Please treat as urgent
Taylor A.O, Asst. Controller General (T&T) For Controller General of Customs.
The above are some of the countless instances of stark economy sabotage meant to constrain Nigerians, to patronize Aliko Dangote’s businesses alone without alternative sources and choices. That way, they have defeated economy sense and analysis which stipulates that when more goods are available from different sources, the cheaper the products and services.
More of the shading deals of the nation’s highest financial institution came to the open while Alhaji Aliko Dangote was unveiling his personal refinery a few weeks ago. At the commissioning of the half-baked Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s Refinery, drenched in absolute paparazzi, the infamous Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, announced to the unsuspecting audience that Aliko Dangote had paid 70% of the loan he took for the building of the refinery. Really!
That couldn’t have been lost on critical thinkers like some of us at the barricades, about the possibility of a refinery that is not operational to raise financial capital to pay off 70 per cent of the loan he took to build his refinery – after the Federal Government had allowed her four refineries to lay moribund – having borrowed itself out of economy existence.
A cursory inquiries into the opaque Dangote Refinery revealed that the Nigeria stock exchange does not have any record of share sales in relation to Dangote Refinery, other than the NNPC alleged 20 per cent investment. That has put further lies to the claims of Godwin Emefiele, even though Nigerians are already aware that Dangote Refinery was built with Nigerian money by the government in power.
Nigerians are in the know that government officials invested heavily and secretly in the Dangote group on an individual basis to avoid public scrutiny. Dangote group borrowed $3 billion dollars to build the refinery, which evidently cost $3.8 billion dollars to build, according to findings. At 70 per cent completion, the refinery was revalued in paper to be $13.9 billion dollars during the commissioning.
Up till this moment, NNPC didn’t find it necessary to put the nation in the know as the statutory industry regulator and affirmatively a competitor with four moribund refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna, yet decided without public knowledge or input, to buy 20% shares in Dangote Refinery to the sum of $2.8 billion dollars. The total amount required to revamp Warri and Port Harcourt refineries is $2.65 billion dollars. The question here is, what is the special interest in Dangote Refinery?
Yet, another conundrum: why did ex-President Muhammandu Buhari hurriedly commissioned a refinery that is only 80% completed? The refinery may not be functional until January 2024, according to report. It was also reported that the NNPC, the industry regulator had advised the House of Representatives Appropriation Committee that the Dangote Refinery would be up and running in March 2024, hence there would be no need to make provisions for fuel subsidy in 2023/24 Budget. Unfortunately, the refinery is not ready and there are no provisions for subsidy in the budget or any form of palliatives and now the nation is on its belly.
When Dangote came into cement production, the government brought in a fictitious quality standard designed to restrict cement supply to his company and cut off all imports. The same style has now been adopted to grant Dangote the exclusive right to supply petrol to NNPC at a price determined by Dangote and his co- travellers. The subsidy removal was planned and agreed by the government as a pre-condition for Alhaji Aliko Dangote to build a refinery when the Western world is moving away from Fossil Fuel. The removal of the subsidy is to maximize profits for the owners of Dangote Refinery, i.e Mr Buhari, Mele Kyari, Emefiele, and other cabals at the corridor of power.
Between 2016 and 2022, the Buhari regime granted duty waivers to captains of industries who are importing goods into the country, to the sum of N60 trillion naira and 90 per cent of that amount went into Aliko Dangote’s monopolistic dominance of the nation’s economy businesses.
This informed my earlier inquiries regarding the over subsidized Aliko Dangote’s numerous companies that have been enjoying tax holidays, while other Nigerians doing the same businesses languished in stagnation. Now the masses are forced to buy Dangote’s goods and services through their nose at great costs without an option for alternatives. Up till this moment, Aliko Dangote has not accepted nor denied the allegation that the Dangote Group of Companies alone received N16 trillion naira in the last 8 years of former President Muhammandu Buhari’s administration!
Aliko Dangote must come clean on how much he is paying to the Federal Government of Nigeria, for his litany of companies: Dangote Cement, Dangote Sugar, Dangote Salt, Dangote Danvita, Dangote Sacks, Petit Tomato Paste, Dangote Macaroni, Mowa Waters, Dangote Flours and Semolina, Dangote Pasta, Stock Seasoning Cubes, Dangote Vegetable Oil, Dangote Fertilizer, Dangote Haulage, Dangote Food and Beverages, Dangote Spaghetti, Dangote Ziza Milk, Dansa Juice, Dangote Noodles, NASCON Allied Industries Plc, and a whole lot of other aspects of decaying national economy, appropriated solely and consolidated into his hands.
Out of the all the numerous cement companies in Nigeria namely; Madewell Cement owned by Chief David Iweta, Reagan Renaissance Ltd, Calabar, owned by Chief Reagan Ufomba, Minaj Holdings Ltd, Enugu, owned hy Senator Mike Ajaegbo, Gateway Cement, Ogun, owned by Chief Wole Odegbami, Maan Lababidi, lagos, Bua International Ltd, owned by Isiaku Rabiu; Majin Roy, lagos and Ibeto Cement, it’s only Dangote Cement that’s operational. This is in spite the fact that many of them having been existing before Alhaji Aliko Dangote came into the business, yet they have all parked up simply because government prevented them from accessing import and local licenses apart from Aliko Dangote, to participate in cement business, like other businesses.
Welcome to the Federal Republic of Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s company, called Nigeria. The Nigerians people have a choice: either to remain forever exploited by an over pampered and slave-driving oppressive oligarch or make the unequivocal demand for discontinuation and total end of Dangote’s ignoble business atrophy!
Erasmus Ikhide can be reached via: [email protected]