In the wake of news reports that the federal government has granted Dangote Cement a waiver to resume exporting cement to West Africa through Nigeria’s land borders that had been closed for over a year, the billionaire founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Atedo Peterside, has flayed the idea.
The disclosure of the waiver was made during an investor call by Bloomberg, financial news services, Monday, by Michel Puchercos, Dangote Cement CEO. He said the cement exports were made possible through “authorization given by this administration,” allowing Africa’s largest cement company to export to Niger and Togo during the third quarter of the year. Pucheros added that the volumes allowed for export were restricted and the company plans to export through seaports. Dangote Cement is owned by Africa’s wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, a Kano State native, who is reportedly one of the greatest beneficiaries of government economic policies.
Like a cross-section of Nigerians, Peterside registered his displeasure with the move earlier this morning on the microblogging site, Twitter, via his active handle @AtedoPeterside, which has almost 50, 000 followers. He stated, “Allowing legitimate exporters & importers to move their goods across the border should be a no-brainer. Why refuse everybody else & allow only one company (Dangote)? This is why some of us argue that the Nigerian economy is rigged in favour of a handful of well-connected persons.”
Predictably, this stance has generated a huge buzz on social media with many active users of Twitter, particularly, praising Peterside for his boldness in the face of the government’s penchant for intimidating opposition figures. Peterside is an active member of the Nigerian business elite where Dangote, arguably, rules the roost. That he could confront Dangote headlong and call the federal government out for their parochial cronyism and impunity is being hailed by many voiceless Nigerians who are also opposed to the idea.
It would be recalled that in 2019, the Federal Government ordered the complete closure of the Nigerian border and placed a ban on both legitimate and illegitimate movement of goods in and out of the country. Justifying the closure, the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service, Retired Col. Hameed Ali said that all import and export of goods from the nation’s land borders were banned until there is an agreement with neighbouring countries on the kind of goods that should enter and exit Nigeria.
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