The host communities of Obajana Cement Plant owned by Dangote Group have welcomed with excitement, the federal government’s order for the immediate reopening of the cement plant in Kogi State, according to a press statement by the company.
The company stated that the host communities members —- Iwaa, Oyo, Obajana, and Apata —- said they could now heave a sigh of relief as the consequences of shutting down the factory were better imagined than described.
The National Security Council (NSC), chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, had last Friday directed the reopening of the cement plant, after raising concerns about job losses, a potential increase in criminality and resultant unemployment in the area and the state due to the shutdown.
Minister of Interior, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola told newsmen that an agreement had been reached between the Dangote Group and the Kogi State government on the need to reopen the factory. He, however, urged both parties to respect the agreement.
Reacting to the latest directive, the secretary of the Association of Fresh Fish Dealers at the Obajana market, Lola Adinu, said her association members were excited when the news came that the factory would be reopened.
Mallam Bala Direba, a 50-year-old commercial motorist plying the 43km concrete Obajana-Kabba road constructed by Dangote Industries Limited, said travellers from the south and from the north were apprehensive about the security of the road and its environs since the recent invasion of the company by “government-sponsored vigilantes.” He added that the road is now the most important road network linking the northern and southern parts of Nigeria.
On his part, Adamu Ibrahim, a 45-year-old commercial motorcyclist, and father of four lamented that commercial activities had been paralysed after the invasion of the plant by thugs. He, however, expressed joy that the situation is now reverting to the usual economic bustle in Obajana.
For Pa Isaac Ade, a community leader, the federal government’s announcement was welcomed with jubilation in his neighbourhood because the lives and the livelihood of the host communities revolve entirely around Dangote Cement Plc.
“Without this company, the communities cannot survive, the markets cannot survive, the commercial motorcyclists cannot survive, and if I may add, this Local Government and the state, in general, will be badly affected,” said Ade.
Peter Dare, a businessman at the Obajana main market described the closure as worrisome but expressed hope that activities in the market were picking up soon after the government ordered the reopening of the factory.
According to him thousands of people would have been in serious economic turmoil had the company not reopened.
At Iwaa, the location of the multi-million naira hospital built by the Dangote Cement Plc, the story was the same, as residents were jubilating over the recent development.
A Septuagenarian, who sought anonymity, said he was worried about how he would offset the tuition fees of his two children at the university following the suspension of the eight-month-old industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Some of the Dangote Cement staff who are indigenes of Kogi State welcomed with excitement the intervention of the federal government, saying they had earlier expressed fear that the closure would have sent them out of jobs.
The group had earlier stated that most of its workforce and technical students at the Dangote Academy situated in Obajana are indigenes of Kogi State.