Nigeria: Dangote, Flour Mills, BUA At War Over New Sugar Refinery
Africa's richest man and Chairman of Dangote Industries Limited, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, and the Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Mr. John Coumantaros, have said the establishment of a new sugar refinery plant in the country by BUA Group posed a threat to the attainment of the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) as well as sustainability of Nigeria's local sugar industry.
They argued that the country currently has enough refining capacity to meet national demand.
In a joint petition to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Niyi Adebayo, dated January 28, 2021, the duo protested the recent commissioning of a sugar refinery in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, by BUA International, one of the operators in the sugar industry.
But in a swift response, Chairman of BUA Group, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, said the company took serious exception to what he described as the ludicrous claims by his two major competitors, pointing out that his sugar export-focused project in Port Harcourt, would not affect in any way, the backward integration programme, stressing that "the only way it will affect Nigerians is that Nigerians will pay lower prices for sugar."
However, in the ensuing row among the major players in the industry, Chairman, BUA Group, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, said its investment in Port Harcourt does not in any way pose a threat to the country's sugar policy, adding that it will rather checkmate arbitrary price increase by the major players among other benefits to the country.
Adebayo yesterday confirmed the rancour among the operators while reacting to THISDAY's enquiry.
But, he declined further comments on the matter.
The minister said: "Unfortunately, I'm unable to comment as the matter is already subjudice. Thank you very much for your understanding."
However, in the letter to the minister, Dangote and his counterpart, argued that they had in 2019, warned about the risk of establishing a new refinery, adding that they got assurances that in line with the federal government's policy on Backward Integration Programme (BIP), "no new refinery will be allowed to operate in Nigeria."
They also pointed out that a tremendous amount of work was required by all stakeholders to achieve the intended objective behind the sugar policy, which is to among other things, encourage backward integration to ultimately attain self-sufficiency in local sugar production.
The petition stated that with the new refinery, the country's refining capacity had increased to 3.4 million metric tonnes per annum from 2.75 million metric tons per annum.
The petitioners further demanded a level-playing field that provides fair competition in the local sugar market in order for the country to realise the sugar master plan.
They specifically urged Adebayo, to prevail on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure that the provisions of the NSMP are enforced and that no additional allocation of quota should be given for raw, VHP, or refined sugar for the sugar refinery in Port Harcourt for local market production.