Nigeria has lost more than 22 billion dollars in six years to the closure of Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON).
Mr Friday Udoh of the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria (ICEN) attributed the sad development to the shutdown of the aluminium smelter plant in 2013 to the activities of Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).
“This is just the time the country’s needs investment to create and boost its export capacity and more importantly driving the needed economic growth.
“Already the country has record a loss of 16.55 billion dollars plus taxes that would have accrued to the host Local government, state and the Federal government bringing the cumulative loss to 22.65 billion dollars,’’ he said.
The economist, who also linked the problem to the legal tussle over the ownership between BFIG Group and a Russian company UC RUSAL, urged the Federal Government to prevail on BPE to implement the 2012 judgment by the Supreme Court on the plant.
“We all witnessed and watched very closely the stripping of this asset and subterfuge move of BPE undermining court pronouncements against its refusal to evict UC RUSAL to minimise the complete run-down of the plant through the questionably activities of the estranged owner,’’ Udoh said.
He noted that the BPE under the supervision of National Council for Privatisation (NCP) had privatised the Aluminum plant in 2007 but one of the bidders went to court to challenge the bid process.
Udoh said the matter was adjudicated at various courts, noting that the Supreme Court had in July 6, 2012 ruled in favour of the BFIG group but BPE did not comply with the decision but pitched its tent with the Russian firm.
“The issue is unimaginable and we think it probably boils down to one school of thought and, that which I entertained, that government has to intervene in ensuring that BPE does not drag the nation’s judiciary and the country into disrepute.
“We are talking about environment that will allow for investment to sustain economy, create jobs and provide funding for infrastructure improvement and maintenance of the existing ones for sustainable economy.
“We watched the very action of UC RUSAL very closely, obviously it has nothing to lose due to its dominant position in smelting and related downstream capacity in the global Aluminum market.
“We should not allow this to happen, else our economy, reputation and sovereignty are gone. The issue of sustainability is non negotiable, a productivity must be thoroughly addressed for nation to attained a level of sustainability,” the economist said.
Udoh claimed that only about 15 per cent of the firms privatised by BPE were running while 85 per cent were riddled by non-performance..
“The government believes in the rule of law, and needs to show the world that it can effectively regulate its economy to encourage private individuals to contribute to economic development by confidently engaging in business, investments.
“Implementing and enforcing the Supreme
Court’s judgment on the plant ownership will no doubt fosters domestic
and foreign investment for the creation of jobs, and the reduction of
poverty,” the economist said.