Enugu Govt frustrates reactivation of Nkalagu Cement

Enugu Govt frustrates reactivation of Nkalagu Cement
Published: 13 February 2006

The delay in the reactivation of the moribund Nigeria Cement factory, Nkalagu, owned by the five states in the Southeast geopolitical zone, has been attributed to the failure of the Enugu State government to relinquish its share certificate to the core investor – Eagle Cement Nigeria Limited.

Secretary to the Ebonyi State Government (SSG), Professor Ozo Nweke Ozo, who announced this at the weekend in his office, said that other states in the zone had submitted their own share certificates to the core investor but regretted that the delay of the Enugu state government to follow suit had put the Eagle Cement in a tight corner to formally get the authority to reactivate the company.

The cement factory, which had about 1600 workforce, had for several years remained comatose leaving its workers with arrears of unpaid salaries which made them to go on protest marches on several occasions.

Similarly, the landlords of the firm had recently protested to the owners of Nigercem to relinquish the vast acres of land the company occupies because of rent arrears since according to them no rent accrues there from any longer.

Asked whether Ebonyi State government would continue to assist the payment of the workers’ upkeep, Ozo said, “We cannot continue to pay the workers. Running a company is not father Christmas affair and Ebonyi State has only 10 per cent share in the venture. Our gestures only go to show that we are anxious to have the company revived. But as a state government, though the factory is located in our territory, there is a limit to what we can do”

Piqued by the ugly situation of the cement factory built under the late Michael Okpara regime, the traditional ruler of Eziudo community in Imo state, Eze Desmond Oguguo, while in Ebonyi state to see Governor Egwu, told journalists that the governors of the states in the southeast would not be forgiven by posterity should they fail to ensure the revival of the company before the expiry of their tenure in 2007.

Oguguo said the factory is an investment of the states that make up the current south east geopolitical zone, adding that “it is an inheritance from our fore fathers, we should not be seen as letting such legacies die on our hands”.