‘BAT meets MOU, FDI obligations in Nigeria’
Firm sets up West African operations in Nigeria
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described the commissioning of British American Tobacco (BAT) Nigeria head office and West African operational office, in Lagos, as a major milestone and a testament to government’s efforts geared towards attracting foreign direct investment.
Tracing the return of BAT to Nigeria, which began with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the company in 2001, Obasanjo said that the tobacco firm was among the first companies that heeded his government’s invitation to invest in Nigeria.
“Almost a decade and a half after the signing of the MOU, we are again at BAT to witness another milestone. I am particularly delighted because this head office building showcases faith in Nigeria and BAT’s continued investment in Nigeria,” said Obasanjo at the commissioning of the office in Lagos.
Making reference to the legality of the tobacco industry and the benefits Nigeria derives from the legitimate tobacco industry, Obasanjo said that the health warnings on cigarette packs are conspicuous enough.
“With the warning on cigarette packs, the government and tobacco companies have fully discharged their duties. We cannot sacrifice the huge benefits BAT brings to the economy,” he emphasised.
One of the major benefits of democratic rule is the relative stability the country enjoys, in addition to engendering an environment conducive for businesses to thrive, said Managing Director, BAT Nigeria, Chris McAllister.
Listing the objectives of the MOU BAT signed with the Federal Government to include the development and expansion of a fully vertically integrated tobacco industry; the building of potential for regional exports; significant increase in both the quality and quantity of tobacco grown and establishment of an independent foundation to address rural economic development, McAllister said that the company has continued to fulfil its obligations to Nigeria.
“As an economic development partner, we believe that by highlighting and celebrating the values and attributes that are unique to the Nigerian nation, the private sector can assist the government to achieve its global objectives. We are an ideal model of how, if properly structured, foreign direct investment can spur economic development,” he stated.
According to the firm, the multi-storey building will serve as the headquarters of BAT for its West African operations.
“BAT produces cigarettes from its factory in Ibadan, which it exports to other countries in the West African sub-region. The company also sources its major raw materials from farmers who are predominantly based in Iseyin, Oyo State. Over the years, farmers in Oyo State and other states of the federation have, enhanced their income by practising mixed cropping, among other initiatives”, the firm explained.
The Oyo State government said that the state has benefited tremendously from BAT’s factory and its corporate social responsibility programmes, which have helped farmers to elevate their practice, raising productivity and enhancing their incomes.