A TWEET by an investment banker and economist Atedo Peterside sparked a debate on Tuesday on the export waiver granted manufacturing giants, Dangote Industries and BUA Group.
The issue trended for hours on social media, with users criticising the Federal Government for favouring big companies.
In the tweet via his handle @AtedoPeterside, the Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc founder said: “Allowing legitimate exporters and importers to move their goods across the border should be a no-brainer.
“Why refuse everybody else and allow only one company (Dangote)? This is why some of us argue that the Nigerian economy is rigged in favour of a handful of well-connected persons.”
In another tweet hours later, Peterside said Dangote was not the only company granted such a waiver.
He insisted that smaller businesses should be granted the advantage.
He said: “I have since learnt that Bua Group was also allowed to export goods through Nigeria’s ‘closed’ land borders.
“Federal Government should please accept that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.
“When will the Federal Government consider small honest businesses that are not so well-connected?”
Bloomberg on Monday reported that Nigeria had allowed Dangote Cement to resume exports across land borders, raising hopes that trade with neighbours may resume after a year-long blockade.
It quoted Michel Puchercos, chief executive officer of Africa’s biggest cement producer, as saying that the company was permitted to export to Niger and Togo in the third quarter for the first time in 10 months.
But, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) spokesman, Joseph Attah, told reporters that Bua Group and an unnamed gas company were also granted similar exemptions.
He said: “The Presidency, in its magnanimity, has approved the exemption of three companies, Dangote Cement, BUA and a gas supply firm from its border closure restrictions due to the need for what they export to other African countries.
“I cannot remember the name of the gas supply company now, but the company supplies gas to Niger and other West African countries.
“So, as of now, these companies will be allowed to export their goods through our land borders to neighbouring countries. For now, only these three companies have been exempted.
“On whether the goodwill will be extended to others, I cannot talk on that since I am not in the Presidency. Ours is to carry out policies of government as regards the land border closure policy.”
Dangote Cement clarified that it and other companies, in July, got partial special dispensation to export their products with a certain sequence of crossing at Ilela land border in Sokoto State and Ohumbe land border in Ogun State.
The company added that Puchercos, in his presentation during the investor call, explained that Dangote Group was focused on exporting cement to West and Central Africa by sea through its export terminals.
He added that six vessels of clinker were exported in the third quarter of 2020 via the Apapa export terminal, while plans are on track to commission the Port Harcourt export terminal before the end of this year.
The management of BUA Group said its cement arm “does not have any blanket approval to export and the Nigerian borders remain closed”.
It added: “BUA Cement was granted a limited approval to export some cement to Niger Republic (which is 100kms from our plant), and this was disclosed in our half-year results and presentations to the investing and general public.”
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