Following yesterday’s invasion of Dangote cement plant at Obajana in Kogi State, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has in strong terms condemned the act saying it will scare away new investors from the state.
The attackers led by top Kogi State political figures, invaded the company yesterday, injuring seven workers.
The association’s president Engr. Mansur Ahmed, at a press conference to herald its 50th Annual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled to hold on 17-19, October, 2022, noted that the action by Kogi State is of great concern, and that it is unimaginable that a state government would take such drastic action to shut down a plant that provides job opportunities and economic activities on a huge scale for the people of Kogi State.
“The action appears to be taken by government and it is alleged to be an effort for some alleged claim on some alleged payment of taxes that have not been made or recovered from the company,” Ahmed said.
According to him the move is totally unjustified, pointing out that if the state government has any issue against any member of the association or corporate citizen, the appropriate thing to do is to take the member to court.
“You cannot use strong-arm tactics to shut them down or impose very severe restrictions on their operations simply to force them. This is illegal and I believe that what has happened will not happen in a normal operating environment,” he said.
Ahmed said the association has reported the matter to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in its bid to help address the anomaly.
He said there is no reason why they should not pay tax to the government, noting that Dangote Group is among the highest known taxpayers in Nigeria adding.
He added: “We have no reason not to pay taxes to the Kogi state government as and when due and I am aware that Dangote Industries is one of the highest tax-payers in Nigeria. But, if indeed for whatever reason that there is a tax for the Kogi State government on Dangote, it has measures and ways of recovery and there is no justification to threaten the closure of that industry.
“We are totally opposed to that kind of measure because there are ways to resolve this amicably in a legal manner and we hope that the relevant authorities in both the federal and state levels would intervene to ensure that this kind of action is not repeated.”
According to Ahmed the 50th AGM tagged ‘An Agenda for Nigeria’s Industrialisation for the Next Decade’ was aimed at leading the nation’s journey to industrialisation, to ascertain the pains and to highlight the performance limiters; recognise the gains and growth milestones; and to identify the learning curves and hurdles ahead.
He further said over the years, the performance of the manufacturing sector has been constrained by numerous familiar challenges that are clearly espoused in its numerous presentations and submissions to the government.
He expressed concern that even as the economy continues to experience very slow growth, policymakers at all levels continue to compound the situation by introducing new taxes; further worsening the difficult and high-cost operating environment.
“In some climes, when the economy slows down, government reduces taxes to encourage businesses to expand, create more jobs and increase economic activities. What we are seeing in Nigeria today is not only increasing tax rate but introducing new taxes and turning every public agency into a revenue collector. In the midst of the challenges, we are resilient and would soldier on with advocacy for a conducive atmosphere for the operation of manufacturing business in Nigeria. We will continue to work towards ensuring that Nigeria becomes an environment that promotes competitiveness,” Ahmed assured.
Also speaking, the Director General, MAN, Segun Ajayi Kadir, said the 50th AGM is special as manufacturers have survived the turbulence both internally and externally, noting that the last few years for manufacturing has experienced external factors largely out of its control and impacting negatively on the economy.
On the federal government’s plan to impose excise duty on non-alcoholic drinks, Kadir said this is the wrong time to have it done.
“What is most painful is that the increase in excise on new products only started this year, so it will amount of changing the goal post in the middle of the game. We have a three-year plan on the escalation of excise duty; all that was thrown into the dustbin and a new and higher one was introduced and targeted at killing the industry. This should be rescinded immediately and that is the only way this sector can survive,” he said.