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Thousands of Jobs at Risk as Kogi Orders Dangote Cement to Shutdown Within 48 Hours

The state government is relying on a resolution of its Assembly which has no force of law.

The Kogi State government in Nigeria’s North Central region has directed the Dangote Group to ensure its cement factory at Obajana is shut down within the next 48 hours in honour of the State House of Assembly which ordered the company to be sealed until the conglomerate furnishes it with the requisite documents demanded by the legislature, putting at risk thousands of jobs in the process.

Unfortunately, thousands of indigenous Kogi whose means of livelihood are dependent on the company will be affected. And from all indications, the state government doesn’t seem to reckon with this implication.

The state government acting under the pretext of enforcing the resolution of the state house of assembly gave the directive on Thursday.
The action of the state government since the dispute between it and Dangote Industries started has baffled many in the business community who have frowned at its resort to self-help and muscling tactic. Coming from a state with very little private sector presence has bemused many watchers of the developments from Kogi, who are inferring that this may be an apparent shakedown of the Dangote Group.

The government’s zeal to enforce the State Assembly’s resolution has no precedent in the state particularly under the current administration. It is not known to have enforced any resolution passed by the same Assembly in the past. Its determination to shutdown such a massive factory in its domain that goes to the core of the nation’s economy is bound to shake investors’ confidence in the country and raises disturbing questions about adherence to due process of law in conflict resolutions in the country.

Generally, Assembly resolutions are advisory and carry no force of law, but this time, the state government is exhibiting unusual zeal to enforce the resolution.
The directive to shutdown the cement company was contained in a press statement signed by the State’s Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, copy of which was made available to journalists in Lokoja, yesterday.

In the statement, the Governor of Kogi state thanked the people of the state for, “their resoluteness in the ownership impasse between the Dangote Group and the state government.”
It added: “While the state government recognises the right of the citizens to peaceful protest as we witnessed across the state yesterday; we urge the people to remain civil, law abiding and give room for constitutionalism. “Breakdown of law and order will not be in the interest of anyone as we hope to remain the most peaceful state in Nigeria.
“To this end, the governor has directed that trucks loading cement that are impounded across the state be released with immediate effect to either return to the plant or go to their destinations peacefully.

“As a state, we must retain the peaceful and business friendly environment that have attracted scores of investment giants to the state in the last seven years.”
Furthermore, the governor urged, the management of “Dangote Group to ensure 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.”
“As a government, we will defend and protect all Government institutions against impunity.

“The governor also wishes to assure the people of the state of his unwavering commitment to defending their interest without compromise. As the face of the struggle with the over four million Kogites behind him, he will ensure the interest of the state is defended with a high sense of integrity, responsibility and allegiance through democratic instruments.

“We call on the people to remain calm and law abiding as well as continue to have faith in the leadership of the governor to deliver on the mandate of the people to take back what belongs to them.

“We also urge security agents to be on red alert to prevent anarchy in the face of the boiling anger of the people against exploitation and oppression. We can only win the battle ahead with cool heads. When our people come together like we are now, all we can do is win,” the statement added.

Ibrahim Oyewale,

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