Kogi communities jubilate as FG orders reopening of Dangote cement plant
It was joyous moment in host communities following Federal Government’s order for the immediate reopening of Dangote Cement Plc plant at Obajana in Kogi State.
Indigenes of Iwaa, Oyo, Obajana and Apata, who spoke with reporters, stated that they could now heave a sigh of relief, as consequences of shutting down the factory are better imagined.
The National Security Council (NSC), chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, ordered reopening of the plant after raising concerns about job losses, potential increase in criminality and resultant unemployment in the area and the state at large.
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, told newsmen that an agreement had been reached between Dangote Group and the state government to reopen the facility, while urging both parties to respect the pact.
Reacting to the latest directive, Secretary of Association of Fresh Fish Dealers at Obajana Market, Mrs. Lola Adinu, said her members were overjoyed at the announcement.
Mallam Bala Dreba, a 50-year-old commercial motorist plying the 43-kilometre concrete Obajana-Kabba Road, constructed by Dangote Industries Limited, noted that travellers from the South and North had been apprehensive about security of the highway and its environs following the recent closure and invasion of the company by officials.
He said the infrastructure is now the most important road network linking the northern and southern parts of Nigeria. Commercial motorcyclists, who brandished leaves in sympathy, were seen cruising in different directions on Friday evening and Saturday morning to celebrate the news.
A 45-year-old commercial motorcyclist and father of four, Adamu Ibrahim, lamented that commercial activities had been paralysed, adding that economic boom would return to Obajana with the new development.
A community leader, Pa Isaac Ade, said the announcement was received with jubilation in his neighbourhood, explaining that the livelihoods of the host communities revolve around the cement plant.
Dangote Cement Plc is the biggest taxpayer and employer of labour in Kogi State. The conglomerate is a part of the Dangote Industries Limited, which is also the second largest employer of labour in Nigeria after the government, as well as the highest private-sector taxpayer to the Federal Government.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Shareholders Associations in Nigeria, Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) had condemned the closure.
EARLIER, TUC pleaded for unsealing of the plant, stating that the welfare of over 22,000 workers was at stake. It urged the feuding parties to resolve the impasse amicably.
In a statement, yesterday, TUC president, Festus Osifo, said if no immediate action is taken, the union and its affiliates would relocate to Kogi.
The group said it was sad that the government, instead of creating jobs, was shutting factories to breed an army of unemployed to be exploited by politicians in the build-up to the 2023 general elections.
The labour centre said it was disturbed by the situation, where most staff of the factory were allegedly harmed by the community over the crisis.
According to the union, the workers are not responsible for the irregularities in documentations and, therefore, should not be punished.
The union said it was happening at a time that the state was among those battling flood that had virtually crippled economic activities.
It advised government at all levels to realise that closure of such establishments was inimical to Nigeria’s development and capable of discouraging potential investors.