FG CEMENT FIRMS' SALE TO DANGOTE, A SUCCESS -EL-RUFAI

By NBF News
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Former Director-General of Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has described the sale of government cement firms to Dangote Industries Limited as a success story of the privatization programme of the Federal Government.

Addressing the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee investigating the privatization activities of the BPE during a public hearing in Abuja at the weekend, el-Rufai said all the firms sold to Dangote Industries have been up and running unlike other investors who soon after taking over firms sold to them cannibalized them for personal interest.

The former Federal Capital Territory Minister, who appeared before the committee to give insight into the activities of the bureau when he was the helmsman, gave instances of the sale of the former Benue Cement Company (BCC) and former Cement Company of Northern Nigeria (CCNN), which were sold to Dangote but which have all been turned around and doubled their production capacities before the sale.

'Those who led the Bureau after my exit should be blamed for the mess in the BPE. Privatization is a good programme of the government if the right things are done at the right time. For instance, the cement companies that were sold to Dangote Industries as core investors are doing well. It is a success story because all the cement companies are now producing double their capacities after Dangote took over,' he told the committee.

The former BPE boss, while exonerating himself from any wrong decision during his leadership of the bureau, explained that if all its privatization activities were carried out transparently like the way Dangote emerged the cement firms' core investors, the exercise would have served its purpose.

Also at the weekend, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, lauded the extent of work at the Dangote cement plant in Ibese.

Speaking to newsmen shortly after being conducted round the plant, Aganga said: 'From what I have seen now, Dangote Cement is a success story. I am pleased and satisfied with the high pace of work in the site and very optimistic that Nigeria will soon become self-sufficient in cement production.

'This is a success story in that some of the equipment we have seen here today are the biggest in Africa. With the situation I met on ground, I will do a memo to the Executive Council of the Federation on what we have achieved in the cement industry and this contributions have to be acknowledged,' the Minister said.

Before the end of the year, the company plans to pump 20.5 million tonnes of cement to the market with Obajana Cement producing 10 million metric tonnes; Ibeshe six million metric tonness and Gboko plant in Benue State 4.5 million metric tonnes. This projection exceeds the country's total demand of 17 million metric tonnes per annum.