» » Why I have committed 10 years of my life to the ALSCON ownership battle - Dr Jaja

 

Why I have committed 10 years of my life to the ALSCON ownership battle - Dr Jaja

Author: john on 22-12-2013, 08:14, views: 6 117

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Dr Reuben Jaja, is the Chief Executive Officer, BFI Group Corporation. On December 3, the corporation once again obtained judgment at the Supreme Court of Nigeria as the rightful owner of ALSCON, the aluminum manufacturing plant in Akwa Ibom State. In this interview, Jaja speaks on his dreams for the plant and how BFG intends to create over 2400 jobs there.

 

The Supreme Court has once again affirmed your ownership of the Aluminium Smelter plant in Akwa Ibom State. So how do you resolve the controversial Share Purchase Agreement with the Bureau of Public Enterprise?


We have a share purchase agreement that has been negotiated. We have executed it and we have given it to the BPE, which they have not signed. We are now going to court to compel them to sign. The BPE, on October 8 this year, gave us a 58-page document which stated the purchase price as $250 million. We accepted and returned it.
They acknowledged it, sent us letters and we discussed it. There are documents to that effect. As far as we are concerned, that share purchase agreement that they sent to us is the mutually agreed share purchase agreement and the court should compel them to execute this agreement.

 

What is the physical state of ALSCON now?


Between when we first got judgment and now, there has been absolute vandalisation of the plant. We have seen the host community of ALSCON intercepting truckloads of vandalised items and things stolen from the plant. We have had local engineers as well as the workers union there complaining bitterly about the vandalised accessories. We intercepted the transfer of ALSCON tanks to a neighbouring company and forced it back. They gave us reasons that made no sense. We see this as a conscious effort to strip the plant and sell all parts to whoever is ready to buy. The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly even passed a resolution begging the federal government to come and rescue the plant.


Even at the Supreme Court, the justices advised us to enforce retrieval fast, otherwise we would be taking over a complete carcass.

 

 

What is your dream for ALSCON?


My dream is to see ALSCON as the main aluminum company on the African continent and number one in 2020.


We plan to run an aluminium plant that will truly propel Nigeria into the global age, that is so diversified and is the support base of Niger Delta’s industrial development and one that would boost environmental issues arising from hydrocarbon in the region by way of using gas to support aluminum production and end-products. We hope to run a plant that will broaden employment by creating jobs for the teeming population of the Niger Delta area.


We will run a plant that will produce products with a unique Nigerian brand, and yet of world-class standard that we will all be proud of. What we should understand is that no foreigner will do these for us; no country can do it for us.


The Russians have made ALSCON part of their aluminium production around the world. Basically they have taken our aluminium manufacturing facility, add it to their own economic flag and then produce at their own will under their flag. Why must we be the one to build our facility and allow them use it to improve their prestige and establish their image around the globe? Why can’t we have our own plant, run by us to compete against others and then create our own reputation as world-class aluminium producers? That is why I have invested 10 years of my life pursuing this project.


The plant is supposed to hire about 2400 people. We know that the staff strength should grow and this is something that is very important. I am far more interested in getting our youth to be employed; job creation is my number one goal, because that is where I come from. I know the challenges there. My involvement in ALSCON is designed to see what we can do to broaden the employment base in Akwa Ibom. So I will measure my performance based on the number of people we employ. We will take the best and the brightest. Our goal is to make sure that we have a place that any young child who has competence in the area we need him will never wander in the street.

 

What are your feelings towards the BPE, a major factor in the protracted litigation on the ALSCON case?


I wish to appeal to the Vice President because he is the head of the National Council on Privatisation. There is a constitutional obligation on his part to run the NCP and ensure that all those involved are given fair treatment - and I can assure you that I was not given one. I appeal to him to please use his good office and resolve this. Give us a fair chance because what has happened in ALSON is ugly to any Nigerian. There is a 58-page share purchase agreement that we are begging them to sign. That is what they gave to the Russians to sign - to my detriment.

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