Dangote Industries Limited the core investor in the Benue Cement Company and the Bureau of Public Enterprises have concluded agreement to commit about N800 million to the payment of severance package to staff of the ailing cement plant ahead of its eventual take over by Dangote.
The Dangote Group emerged as core investors in the Gboko-based plant in 2000 when the Federal Government divested its 35 per cent equity holding under the on-going Federal Govern-ment's privatisation programme. The new core investor paid N 918,316,128.20( N918.3 million) to the BPE to acquire the shares in the plant where the Benue state government is the second largest share holder with 22.7 per cent
However, the stiff opposition mounted then by the local and the Benue state government made it impossible for Dangote to take over affairs of the company.
The state government and the host community claimed then that Dangote was not qualified to take over the company and run it profitably since the company in their view lacked the technical competence to operate the cement plant of the size of Benue Cement.
But following wide consultations the differences were resolved and the state government last September agreed to cooperate with Dangote to take over the plant.
By last September, the company with a staff strength of about 1200 was owing 12 months salaries in arrears with the monthly wage bill put at about N 23 million among other financial commitments to both retired and serving staff.