Dangote Sugar, Flour Mills and BUA Sugar have continued to trade accusations over control of the sugar industry in Nigeria.
Aliko Dangote, Chairman of Dangote Industries Ltd, and John Coumantaros, Chairman, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, had in January asked the Federal Government to shut BUA Group’s Sugar Refinery in Port Harcourt, saying the establishment of another refinery is in contravention of the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) and the local sugar industry.
They argued that the country currently had enough refining capacity to meet national demand. They recalled that under the revised guidelines released by the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), it was made absolutely clear that the allocation of quotas henceforth shall be on quantitative and verifiable improvements in the BIP of operators in the industry.
The petitioners alleged that the midterm assessment conducted by the NSDC had concluded that BUA had “failed to invest substantially in local production or comply with its undertakings under its BIP.
“Even before its surreptitious investment in additional refining capacity, Nigeria already has enough refining capacity to satisfy demand today well into the future.”
The petitioners maintained that the business logic behind the investment in new refinery was clearly defective adding that, “BUA intends only on importing and refining raw sugar whilst claiming to be investing in developing sugar plantations in order to qualify for quotas to import raw sugar”.
They further alleged that the Port Harcourt refinery was clearly undertaken to deliberately undermine the federal government’s sugar policy.
However, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Chairman, BUA Group, said his investment in Port Harcourt did not pose a threat to the country’s sugar policy, adding that it will rather checkmate arbitrary price increase by the major players among other benefits to the country.
BUA revealed that in 2020, before Ramadan, sugar was sold for around 18,000 Naira per bag, but as the Ramadan fasting began, the price skyrocketed to 30,000 per bag. It said the increase in sugar price during the Ramadan and other festive periods by the Dangote company was needless.
BUA accused Dangote of exploiting Nigerians by increasing the price of his products particularly when its been needed and people have no choice than to patronise. The refinery stated that Dangote’s petition came after it had refused to succumb to their pressure to increase its price.
It was also gathered that BUA group has dragged the Trade Minister to court in a bid to avert any unlawful action against the refinery as demanded by the Africa’s richest businessman.
BUA vowed to frustrate the alleged decision by the Dangote group to monopolize Sugar trade in the country.
The company pointed out in its five-page response, that it was unreasonable for it to be working against the backward integration policy of the industry, having invested billions of naira in the initiative which is almost nearing completion.
Rabiu, specifically assured that its sugar export focused project in Port Harcourt, will not affect in any way, the backward integration programme adding that “the only way it will affect Nigerians is that Nigerians will pay lower prices for sugar”.