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Institute petitions presidency over ALSCON neglect despite Supreme Court rulings

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The Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria (ICEN) has petitioned the Presidency over the politics and litigations frustrating the functioning of $3.1 billion Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom state for 23 years running.

ALSCON has been shut down for years with thousands of its workers sent to the labour market without payment of entitlements. Some have died, the economy of Ikot Abasi dead, Akwa Ibom and the country losing ALSCON over N1.2 trillion l through the inaction of Federal Government and the subsequent gas shut-in may have cost Nigeria and the operating companies lose of well over N109.21 billion.

The ownership of ALSCON has been a protracted legal battle between the BFI Group on one side against the UC Rusal of Russia the erstwhile occupant of the plant before it was shut down in 2013 and the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE). The BFI Group had won several of the cases including that of the Supreme Court in 2012 that ordered BPE to hand over ALSCON to the BFI Group.

In a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and signed by the institute’s Chief Coordinator, South-South, Nigeria, Mr. Friday Nathaniel Udoh at weekend, said, “there are grave consequences allowing ALSCON plant to rot in political intrigue of the supposedly reverence Institution, the BPE. In addition, major issues that need the Federal government consideration is the total risks over a lifetime of the asset, adjudging from the sum of all yearly risks associated with physical, chemistry, economic growth, inflation and the interest rate and following the events along the technology and changes in physical properties that potentially impact on the function of the plant and given to an endless litigation, degrading, ageing and deterioration could potentially ruin the very essence of this $3.1 billion investment plunging the plant value to zero-sum and a matter that requires critical and timely attention given the strategic position of this plant to economy”.

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While hoping the inclusion of the ALSCON matter during the Federal Executive Council meeting for deliberation, the institute said their position is premised on the ground of the consequence of ALSCON continuous closure to the economy and over the role of BPE and misinformed disposition thus “misleading Mr. President even at the adverse impact of action on economy and threat to national security occasioned from unemployment and revenue drift.”

With ALSCON back on stream, the institute said, it will “reduce the economy of burden on import bills and increase in valued-added potentials of available resources, and especially to halt further attrition of naira which has suffered a lot to 59.8 per cent falls since 2015 making the country weaker local currency makings exports paid for in high premium US dollars much less expensive for importers.

“Save the country from loss in revenue from flared/vented natural gas amounting to $23.2 million per annum, when the plant is in operation, as well as its pollutants, but not limited to Carbon Dioxide (Co2) Methane (CH4), Propane being associated with venting/flaring attendant consequence on human health, including hearts, stroke -cardiovascular diseases. As well as greenhouse gas, a principal contributor to global warming that corresponds to sea rise and desertification currently ravaging the south and north with severe threats to socio-economic and security systems.”

They stated that ALSCON will lead to, “sustainably engagement of an over 61,200 Nigerians, among the unemployed, vulnerable ant the working poor through the industry value chain; contribute to GDP about N47.8 per annum through the productivity of individual’s engagement across the product value chain and will save the economy over $234.1 million from yearly Aluminium importation.”

Among other things, they requested that, the President should present the issue of ALSCON on the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting for discussion, “given the effect of the endless adjudication on the matter against the aged, technology changes and physical changes owing to deterioration of the asset that might eventually plunge the plant to zero sum game -asset value, at worst the ripple to the economy and the people whose resources was employed for the development of the plant; set up appropriate panel to investigate the continued occupation of DHL/UC Rusal and its agent, contrary to the Apex court extant order, among others and the very recent judgment by the Federal High court Abuja dated December 17, 2019 and presided by Justice Anwuri Chikere which Alex Okoh was ordered to be remanded in custody pending the implementation of THE Apex court, July 6, 2012, over the continued occupation and cannibalization of the plant machineries, equipment and sold same as scrap to the public by the erstwhile owner DHL/UC Rusal and the latter could not have been the best engaging for the preservation of the plant.”

To further give effect to the judgments of the Supreme Court by way of consequential order that “the Applicant (BFI Group), its employees and agent shall forthwith have full, uninterrupted and unrestricted access to ALSCON to conduct a firsthand assessment of the business affairs of the company including engineering, technical, financial, accounting, facility, environmental, personnel, dredging and legal records pursuant to the decisions of the National Council for Privatization (NPC) as approved.

“The Inspector-General of Police and other security agencies should ensure that these orders are fully enforced; Our question is that, why did a company whose ownership was stripped through the Supreme Court judgment since July 6, 2012 still occupying the plant till today” and why did BPE leadership be allowed to use its office to frustrate take over of ALSCON?

According to the institute, the plant manufacturers had defined the late-life phase value of the plant at 25 to 30 years and late-life phase of the installation corresponds to atrophy of assets, systems or any tangible infrastructure and this stage of its life cycle gives way to decommissioning but if usage is still needed, then efficiency and further utilization and optimization can only be achieved through a specific maintenance programme.


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