The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and Atedo Peterside, the founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, have faulted the Nigerian government’s exclusion of Dangote Cement from its blockade order, barring Nigeria from all land border trade with its neighbours.
Africa’s biggest economy shut itself up to land trade dealings with neighbours thirteen months ago to stimulate self-sufficiency and rein in smuggling, a move often seen as an extreme interventionist measure, given that it has kept inflation rising every month since then.
Mr Peterside, who spoke in a series of posts via his Twitter handle: @AtedoPeterside, said government should not have exempted legitimate exporters and importers from a decision that handed liberty to Dangote Cement and a couple others to trade across land borders.
“Why refuse everybody else & 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,” Mr Peterside said.
“I have since learnt that Bua Group were also allowed to export goods through Nigeria’s “closed” land borders. FG should please accept that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. When will the FG consider small honest businesses that are not so well-connected?”
Muda Yusuf, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s director-general, said the move pointed to government’s credibility gap and could put the integrity of policymakers in question.
“It also negates the principles and spirit of competition policy and competition law,” he added.
Meanwhile, Anthony Chiejina, the spokesperson of Dangote Cement, said in a statement on Tuesday that the Bloomberg report that uncovered the Nigerian government’s approval of Dangote Cement’s exemption, was misconstrued.
“Dangote Cement is a publicly quoted company and complies strictly with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) full disclosure clauses and regularly update transparently our transactions to our shareholders and it is disheartening that such honest disclosure is being interpreted negatively,” he said.
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