As the face-off between the Kogi State Government and Dangote Group deepens, prominent Kogi business man and politician, Dr. Mohammed Shaibu Tettes has urged the state government to place logic over emotions in handling the issues.
In an open letter to Governor Yahaya Bello, Dr. Mohammed Tettes said that the truth which stares everyone in the face today is that the Dangote Group has been of more impact on the people of Kogi State than both the federal, state and local governments put together.
He also stated that now that the facility is back on steam with military protection which is a win for the conglomerate, the scars of the forceful closure will hunt the state for a long time to come.
See below, the full text of the letter:
My dear governor,
His Excellency, Yahaya Adoza Bello,
The Executive Governor
I’m writing you to first, felicitate with you and your family on this years’ occasion of Eid El Maulud. It’s my prayer that the blessings of the season will abide with you and your household.
Also, I’m writing to offer my solidarity to you as a fellow Kogite at a time our state which you preside over is facing a humanitarian disaster caused by flood. I offer my deepest sympathy to you and our people whose peace and livelihood have been distorted by this disaster that is being amplified by the inability of government at all levels to provide a solution to it.
The third reason I’m writing you this open letter is to register my concerns at the ongoing face-off between the Kogi State government that you lead and Dangote Plc. which should never have been allowed to degenerate to a situation where thugs and agents of the state vigilante service are unleashed on a multi-billion dollar manufacturing outfit to force a shut down.
Throughout the period the facility discontinued operations with all its staff sitting at home with no hope of earning any income this month and others nursing grievous bodily harm, which of the pressing issues leading to the showdown have we solved?
Your Excellency Sir, as you may be aware, the Dangote Group started business in Kogi State in 2002 and has grown over the past 20 years to be synonymous with the growth of Kogi people and the stability of Kogi State.
They have created significant value for our people and have committed billions of Naira towards corporate social responsibility aimed to lift our dear state and our people.
Not only did the conglomerate build in record time the Obajana – Kabba highway via a tax credit deal at a time government was incapable of providing the critical infrastructure, the organization also built an articulated truck driving academy as means of promoting knowledge about the use of roads and safety on the highway.
This academy has produced thousands of skilled drivers who it empowered to earn decent livelihood and has remained the highest employer of labor in Kogi State; far ahead of even the federal, state and local governments put together.
I am therefore urging you my dear Governor to immediately place logic over ego/emotions and leverage other lawful means of engaging the owners of the facility.
This is the right thing to do because as at now, Kogi State is holding on to the shorter end of the stick.
Your Excellency Sir, contrary to whatever information or security report is at your disposal, the truth that stares everyone in the face today is that the Dangote Group has been of more impact on the people of Kogi State than both the federal, state and local governments put together.
This is on account of the truth that the conglomerate has been significantly instrumental to the low crime rate in its host community and several others surrounding it.
It is common knowledge that in present day Kogi State, hundreds of thousands of families owe their survival to the existence of the Dangote Group because there is evidence that suggests that every single extended family in Kogi State has at least one of its own on the payroll of the conglomerate.
Beyond creation of direct jobs; millions of SME’s owe their survival to the operations of the Obajana Cement plant – suppliers of lubricants, stationary, petrochemicals, food vendors, outsourcing companies, drivers, automotive engineers, plumbers, builders amongst others.
The multiplier effect of a shutdown of a plant that is unarguably the most profitable business in an entire state is unimaginable.
On the human front, Kogi people who work in other plants of the Dangote Group are presently a laughing stock. They are now being mocked as a people whose state government still utilize thuggery and brigandage as dispute resolution mechanisms at a time the whole world have moved on to arbitration.
Information made available to the press by your cabinet indicate that the issues causing the dispute are the ownership structure of the Obajana cement plant by way of shareholding, ownership of the land on which the facility sits and the default of the facility in paying taxes.
As much as these issues look cogent on the face value, they are not sufficient grounds to deny over 10,000 Kogi people a chance to earn their monthly income with which they pay school fees, feed, cloth, shelter, buy medications and also stimulate small businesses in their locality.
This isn’t about Aliko Dangote. It is about Kogi people who should not be dragged into this squabble.
Already, Kogi state is trending on both national and international media space and it’s for the wrong reason. The consequences of this bad press is that serious investors will perceive Kogi State as a thug mansion where business related disputes are settled with machetes and guns not arbitration.
If indeed the Dangote Group has short changed Kogi State for non remittance of accurate taxes, a constitutionally created and recognized tax tribunal exists to adjudicate on the matter.
If indeed, the Dangote Group has not remitted correct dividends to Kogi State on account of its part ownership of the conglomerate, there’s a securities and exchange commission as well as other statutory agencies to appeal to.
If the issue in contention is ownership of the land hosting the cement plant, then the state government should immediately issue a proper certificate of occupancy to the conglomerate and demand the full market value of the property from it. This is what works elsewhere.
Clearly, thugs and members of the state sponsored vigilante service have absolutely no role to play in any of the scenarios because what the state has achieved is simply cutting the nose to spite the face.
Your Excellency Sir, you joined government from the private sector and I take it for granted that you have a very clear understanding of the time value of money and it’s impact on employees whose daily output is what is calculated and computed to monetary terms.
If you consider this for a moment, you’ll realize that the greatest losers here were your kinsmen and mine. Your brothers and mine. Your sisters and mine.
Your Excellency Sir; do the right thing now and reverse this trend so our people can be sure of where their next meal will come from by engaging into lawful engagement with the conglomerate and ensuring that non state actors are kept away permanently.
Now that the facility is back on steam with military protection which is a win for the conglomerate, the scars of the forceful closure will hunt the state for a long time to come. It’s my prayers and hope that this will be the last time the state Government will adopt this approach in the resolution of any misunderstanding with Entrepreneurs and businesses that operate in the state.
I thank you for your time and I assure you of my highest regards at all times.
Mohammed A Shaibu Tettes, Ph.D
Mohsha Nigeria Limited,