The recent resolve by BUA Cement to slash Cement price to N3,500 from N5,500 prevailing Dangote set cement market price only signaled a return to liberal market economy under President Bola Tinubu. It sent excitement into many homes across the country. Nigerians are waiting for more of this break in monopoly because the journey has been tortious. Enjoy this edited documentary on the cement war between Dangote and Ibeto.
When president Olusegun Obasanjo encouraged local production of Cement, the manager of Ibeto Cement factory promised to flood the Nigerian market with cement and drastically reduce the price of the product. Ibeto fulfilled his promise and flooded the country with cement. The result was that the price of cement crashed. This jilted Dangote cement and affected his business adversely.
Aliko Dangote wrote a petition to former president Olusegun Obasanjo kicking against the authority the federal government granted Ibeto to import 800,000 metric tons of cement.
The former president issued a directive that Ibeto was not allowed to import cement into the country but improve his investment in local production. Dangote was allowed to import cement.
Thousands of members of staff of Ibeto Cement were rendered jobless.
When late president Umaru Yar’Adua succeeded Obasanjo, Ibeto in July 2007 applied for import allocation and it was granted. Once again he flooded the country with quality cement and the prices crashed.
Dangote Cement PLC quickly filled a suit alleging that Ibeto Cement company is getting undue advantage by the federal government.
On its part, the federal government contended that Dangote Cement PLC is plotting to wipe out fair competition, create a monopoly in the industry and transform itself to the only cork that crows in Nigeria but Ibeto further filled terms of settlement which were entered as consent judgement in the suit.
In line with the consent judgement, it will continue to import 1.5 million metric tonnes of cement per annum for a period between 1st of October 2007 to 30th of September 2019.
This was in line with federal government guarantee conveyed in a letter by the Ministry of Trade and Iindustry dated 5th June 2002.
By the judgement, the federal government was to pay Ibeto Cement company the sum of 40million dollars and 1.9 billion Naira. The amount is the verified claim by the inter-ministerial committee for the losses suffered by Ibeto for the unjustified closure of his bagging plant between December 2005 and when it resumed operation in October 2007.
But Dangote Cement PLC consented that it’s right and interest was affected by the consent judgement. Dangote argued that the continuance of Ibeto cement made Dangote cement expensive.
However the federal government and six of its agencies which are the other defendants in the counter affidavit, in a post by one Emmanuel Joel, an assistant litigation officer in the law firm of KenNna partners, that Dangote Cement PLC filled the suit with only one intention, to wipe out competition in cement business and become a monopoly.
The federal government also contended that Dangote cement has no locus in filling the suit as the matter didn’t concern them. It averred that the suit, en-suite by Ibeto cement against the federal government was not fraudulent, furthermore, he argued that Dangote cement was not a nominee or agent of government agencies which are defendants in the suite and it’s not acting on their behalf.
He argued that Dangote Cement PLC is not an agency of federal government with the statutory mandate of administering, managing and enforcing tax compliance therefore lacking the locus standi to commence or maintain legal action or seek the reliefs in the case.
Ibeto took cement to another level, he signed a contract agreement of 368 million dollars with a Chinese company; Sinoma Engineering, Design and Research Institute Company Limited to produce 6,000 metric tonnes of cement in Enugu State, South East of Nigeria. The contract covered crushing limestone, mining cement raw materials to packaging and even a 45 mega watt power plant, covering engineering design, equipment, material supply, civil works, installation, commissioning and personnel training.
Already Ibeto company has raised a similar facility in Port Harcourt, Rivers State which produces 6,000 tons of cement.
Dangote was afraid that his dominance and monopoly of cement production will be destroyed by Ibeto.
Ibeto is a billionaire and one of the wealthiest men in Africa. As at 2013, he was estimated to be worth about 3.7 billion dollars by ventures Africa. His petrochemical industry limited which manufactures oil lubricants and other various petroleum products both for local and international market has the largest liquid storage facility for petroleum product in Nigeria with a large capacity to store over 60,000 metric tonne and it’s located in in Apapa wharf and Ibru Jetty complex, Lagos, Nigeria.
President Buhari came into power, Ibeto company applied for foreign exchange from the CBN but was denied, Dangote applied and was granted, he has continued to enjoy all manner of waivers.
Like Dangote did during the Obasanjo regime, he was alleged to have approached his Fulani brother, Buhari to ban Ibeto cement. Following the closure of Ibeto cement by Buhari, the prices of cement jump from ₦1,500 to ₦2,500 and lately, N5,500 and Dangote smiled to the bank. Ibeto’s account is frozen.
Dr. Cletus Ibeto has been arrested several time, questioned by security agencies, harassed, humiliated, intimidated. There’s no law in the Nigerian law book that Ibeto company has breached. What then is his crime! Why are all these maltreatment!
And suddenly, BUA Cement enters the market ring.