Federal government has given waver to one of Africa’s richest men, Aliko Dangote to resume exports across its land borders, a move that has been received sever criticism by businessmen and politicians.
The move, which raised hopes Nigeria may be gradually opening international trade with neighbours after a year-long blockade, came one year after the country’s land borders were closed to prevent smuggling.
According to the reports from Bloomberg, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government gave its waver for Africa’s biggest cement producer to export cement to Niger and Togo in the third quarter for the first time in 10 months.
The company’s chief executive officer, Michel Puchercos, was quoted to have said this during an investor call in Lagos.
The export was made possible “through authorisation given by this administration,” he said. The exemption to Dangote Cement is seen as a softening of the government’s position on a border closure that started in August last year, and could open the way for other businesses to fully resume exports across the country’s land barriers.
The federal government had closed borders with neighboring countries including Benin and Niger to curb smuggling and boost local production. Although the blockade encouraged the consumption of locally grown produce such as rice,
it hurt factories across West Africa, which rely on Nigeria’s market of 200 million people. Dangote resumed land export with “restricted volumes,” and plans to grow the trade using the sea channels, according to Puchercos.
The Lagos-based company’s plan to buy back some of its shares has been delayed by market volatility and low liquidity, which have affected valuation, Guillaume Moyen, acting chief financial officer said at the same conference call.
However notable Nigerians have criticised the decision.
Former Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Atedo Peterside, said that the decision to exempt only Dangote Cement Plc to resume land border exportation, is rigging Nigeria in favour of connected persons.
Writing on his Tweeter handle, the Nigerian businessman said,
“Allowing legitimate exporters & importers to move their goods across the border should be a no-brainer. Why refuse everybody else & allow only one company (Dangote)? Therefore, some of us argue that the Nigerian economy is rigged in favour of a handful of well-connected persons.”
Also, human rights activist and Nigerian senator, Shehu Sani, through his official twitter account criticized the government for bending the policy to favour one person. Shehu said “one country, two laws” in his tweeter handle.