We have watched with concern the face-off between the Government of Kogi State and the Dangote Group over the ownership of the Obajana Cement Company, and we are obliged to make very clear our position on the issue after diligently studying the facts of the dispute as well as making far-reaching consultations with relevant stakeholders.
We have also followed how the Dangote Group has tried to divert the attention of the public from the crux of the matter with questionable claims of violence against its workers at the time of closure.
From time immemorial, the purpose of government has been to safeguard the overall wellbeing of the people by guaranteeing their social and economic security. This is what the Kogi State Government has done by insisting on correcting the age-long economic intimidation of its host state by the Dangote Group.
As indigenes of Kogi State, we affirm that the Government of Kogi State, under Alhaji Yahaya Bello, should be commended for demanding evidence of a strange agreement that delivered our birth rights, 100 per cent, on a platter of gold to Dangote Group, despite the fact that Obajana Cement Factory was established and nurtured by the Kogi State Government until Dangote offered to partner with the state. There are documents already in the public domain detailing the economic injustice carried out against the Kogi people in view of an investment that has not for one day benefitted them.
We have listened to the misleading argument of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in its press statement of Friday, 7th October, 2022, and we are duty bound to inform the public that the argument of this association, which the whole world knows is being controlled by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, is lopsided and lacks merit.
This and other such arguments by other associations in the league of MAN are, to say the least, a slap on the faces of indigenes of our state who have been unfairly exploited for years, with many either dying daily from environmental hazards arising from Dangote’s activities in the area or in the hands of its reckless drivers that have killed many across Nigeria (countless Kogi State students inclusive). All these hazards, yet nothing accrues to the government from a concern it created.
Let it be clear that we are students of Kogi State learning in higher institutions across Nigeria; but we can safely reflect the minds of even our family members that this struggle is not that of the Governor or the House of Assembly alone. It is our collective struggle and we will seek justice as far as the International Court.
We acknowledge the efforts of Aliko Dangote to industrialize the country, create jobs and wealth through various factories, but we wish to state unequivocally that he cannot rewrite history in our own case as we know the story of Obajana from inception.
This case is simple. Show evidence of consideration or payment, 100 per cent, for our Obajana and we will tell the whole world to judge.
It is our strongly held opinion that the fact-finding action of the Kogi State House of Assembly that exposed the inability of the Management of Dangote Cement to show evidence of responsible transfer of the shares of the company belonging to Kogi State is an action in the right direction, especially that the company was given ample opportunity to provide proof.
We wish to call on public commentators, industrialist groups and well meaning citizens to know the facts of the case before making public comments in order to avoid the counter-productive error of misinforming the unsuspecting public.
While we appeal to both parties to embrace peace and dialogue, we strongly commend the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and the State House of Assembly for the diligent efforts that culminated in shutting down the factory.
We encourage the press to embrace investigative reporting and publish only what is true. A visit to Obajana and interaction with the indigenes would provide a clear picture of what transpired on the day of closure aside from what is being concocted by the Dangote Group.
We however want to send a strong warning to the Dangote Group that any attempt to paint Kogi youths black in this just struggle would be resisted.
Enough is enough!
Rachael Mojirola Balogun
National President, Nakoss National/
Chairperson, Council of 36 states Student Presidents (CSSP).
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