Fast rising industrial conglomerate BUA Group has faulted claims by Dangote Industries Limited and Flour Mills of Nigeria that its sugar refinery “poses a threat” to Nigeria’s local sugar industry.
His reaction came amid concerns generated by a joint letter written by Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, and Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria, John Coumantaros, to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Niyi Adebayo, accusing BUA’s refinery in Bundu Free Trade Zone, Port Harcourt, Rivers state, of undermining the national sugar master plan (NSMP).
The NSMP is a policy road map for sugar production introduced in 2013 to achieve self-sufficiency in sugar production and save foreign exchange on the importation of sugar and ethanol.
Responding to a request for information from the trade ministry over the petition, Abdul Samad Rabiu, the BUA Group chairman, said its project is governed by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) Act and the Free Zone approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Rabiu said argued that by their desire, Dangote and Coumantaros were rather calling to question the “authority of the president’s power and the diligence of the trade ministry”.
“Therefore we see this as an affront to the powers of the president and an attempt to undermine Nigeria and its institutions as well as edge out competition, to gain a monopoly that holds the country to ransom,” he said.
Dangote and Coumantaros, had in a letter dated January 28, 2021 and addressed to the minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, alleged that the sugar refinery in Port Harcourt was built with “the intention to undermine the NSMP”.
They both prayed the minister to investigate the quantity of raw sugar imported by BUA’s sugar refinery and “appropriate penalty in terms of duty at 60 percent and 10 percent levy be imposed, on the company”.
They called for a fair and discipline implementation of the NSMP by the Nigerian Sugar Development Council (NSDC) — the regulator.
“This investment in the Port Harcourt refinery was clearly done with the intention to undermine the NSMP. We are particularly surprised by the brazenness as we believe that the choice of location and the publicity campaign behind the investment has been deliberately engineered to provoke public sentiment and put the Federal Republic of Nigeria against its people.
Rabiu, in his response dated February 11, 2021, said it is a well-known fact “in Nigeria and anywhere in the world wherever Dangote is operating in any sector or business, he seeks to muscle out competition through any means necessary” and “this scenario is playing out again in this case”.