Ola ‘Kiya, Reporting
THE Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom, Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State, HRM King Obukohwo Monday Whiskey, Udurhie I, has appealed to President Bola Tinubu to reopen the shut Madewell Cement Factory.
The journalist-turned-monarch, made the plea on Thursday during a tour of the idle facility with his chiefs.
He also urged Tinubu to restore the licences of all other cement producers to jumpstart the economy he promised to rejig.
Speaking to journalists during the tour, the Delta monarch said: “We are here for the project tour and inspection of the abandoned Madewell Portland Cement Factory here in Otorho Idjerhe.
“It is 15 years ago or let’s say 12 years ago, when this project was brought down by cabals in the cement industry.
“It had already created over 2000 direct jobs and over 10,000 indirect jobs to the Nigerian economy.
“As a king of this land, I see pain and I believe that with the coming in of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a man who is business-oriented, a man who is economically viable, he knows the importance of the cement sector to the Nigerian economy.
“If we must make development of shelter as one of the basic requirements of human existence.”
According to him, “when this place was shut down, a lot of young men, a lot of artisans who were working here lost their jobs.
“I came here to plead with Mr. President to revisit or grant and reissue the six licenses that were issued at regional business.
“The cement industry is too large for one man or one company to deal in, no individual can do this.”
HM Whiskey also lamented the losses that accompanied the shut down of the cement factory in monetary and contractual terms.
“As we speak of the 500,000 metric tonnes that was approved for Madewell Portland cement, only 50,000 metric tonnes of this came to Nigeria.
“It was disposed of in less than four or five months there’s still over 450,000 metric tonne in China,” he noted.
He said his people have called on President Tinubu to redress the injustice done Prince David Iweta, who’s the MD/CEO Madewell Cement Factory.
“As it is, I and the good people have agreed to plead with the Federal Government to revisit that injustice that was done to our great son, Prince David Iweta, MD/CEO Madewell Cement, that was done to a South South son, that was done to a Nigeria who is business-oriented, who believes in the right way of doing things.
“Madewell, as an industry player, is being very patriotic. Some of them went to court. They collected a huge amount of money from the Federal Government.
“But he didn’t go to court because he believed that a day like this would come. And I believe that Mr. President, as a listening President, will listen to this very important cry and plea. Î
“The reopening of this factory will help to resolve the high demands for cement.
“As we speak, no two or three, or four companies can get enough cement to meet the cement consumption of Nigerians.
“So, the best decision the government took then was to ensure that there is a Portland Cement factory, one in each region that is outside the major players and the licences that were issued to them were for them to first import cement.
“They were given clearance for 500,000 metric tonnes of import. By the time you are done with that, you would have made arrangement for your production.
“And that was what Prince David the waiter and his group were doing diligently as of the time this factory was shut down.
“They only had taken delivery of 50,000 metric tons of the product and what that translates to is that 450 million metric tons were still in China.
“And if you cannot bring in what you have borrowed money to bring to the country to sell, you can’t be talking about production.
“But an individual wrote a petition telling government of Nigeria that they have no reason to import cement that those who were importing should be stopped so that he remained the only authority in cement industry in Nigeria.
“I think it is wicked. I think it is wrong, I think it is an option that is not viable, the government ought to know that,” he further averred.
Stonix News recalled that late President Umaru Yar‘ Adua had issued six companies,
representing each of the six geopolitical zones, operating licences to bring down the prices of cement.
The licences were, however, revoked when President Goodluck Jonathan came into power after the sudden death of his boss.
He was reportedly prevailed upon via a petition from a major cement producer in Nigeria to withdraw the licences for importation and enthrone his in the guise of promoting local production.