The Dangote Debacle in Obajana; Fighting a Just Cause Wrongly

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The outgoing week has been very interesting in Kogi State with all eyes on Obajana, the host community of Dangote Cement Plant.

Until the investigative hearing instituted by the Kogi State House of Assembly, the public is unaware of the several attempts by the Kogi State Government to make the Dangote Group give to the state its fair benefits of the profits the conglomerate is making from its mining activities in the state.

It’s a fact that the activities of Dangote Group in the state like in other places has elicited a lot of negative reactions from the people because of the impudence of the Company.

From the carnage and excessive loss of lives and destruction of properties due to the recklessness of the truck drivers of the company to environmental degradation from its diverse mining activities to get limestone, gypsum and coal, to damage of roads, to corporate social irresponsibility, the attempt by the Kogi State Government to make things right is laudable and should be commended.

After the order to lock the plant by the Kogi State House of Assembly in the exercise of its constitutionally guaranteed powers, enforcement of the order should have been left to the appropriate security agencies.

Resorting to self-help because of the Dangote’s Group known intransigence which it copiously exhibited in this case, is totally wrong.

The other option available to the Kogi State Government is to seek legal redress for any unfair treatment it alleges from the Dangote Group.

The attempt to lock or actual lock up the plant has thrown up a lot of confusion into the whole saga and we are now faced with lots of accusations and counter accusations flowing from both sides. The situation has therefore been further complicated.

People have asked; why now? And my view is that it’s never too late to make things right.

It is sad that a State with an Attorney General who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is making this kind of error.

Kogi State Government should not threaten to expose any attempt by Dangote Group or its agents to muscle the state into submission as it has alleged. It should just make public the evidence in its possession. Kogi State Government should understand it is dealing with an uncommon adversary who anyone will underestimate with grave consequences.

The Dangote Group is also making allegations of plant invasion and armed attack on its personnel with claims of several wounded.

Kogi State Government should dig deep from former Governors in the state to enable it have a true picture of what actually transpired devoid of grandstanding and witch hunting.

Until this is done, all that will be achieved is groping in darkness.

Alhaji Yahaya Bello irrespective of what anyone might feel about him for whatever reason is right on this but he was ill-advised to correct an anomaly wrongly.

No individual or organisation can hold Kogi State to ransom no matter the clout and connection but care must be taken and caution must be applied. Might cannot be right in this situation and wisdom must be applied.

One way or the other, this matter will be resolved but lessons must have been learnt that brute force and violence is not always appropriate when tackling certain issues.

Despite all the prevailing situation, there is still room for dialogue and the Kogi State Government should not foreclose it.

The Kogi State Government should also place less emphasis on propaganda as this matter will be resolved through dialogue or the Court and not public opinion

The efforts to make the God given resources in the state work for the people is commendable and should be supported.

It behoves on government to ensure the state and its people enjoy the benefits when the furore raised by the ongoing saga simmers and what is due to the state is given to it not only from the Dangote Group but all other organisations in the extractive industries.

Tunmise Bamishile

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