The Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom, HRM King Obukohwo Monday Whiskey JP, Udurhie I, has implored President Bola Tinubu to reactivate the long-closed Madewell Cement factory and restore all rescinded licenses of cement producers to bolster the economy.
The King voiced his appeal on Thursday, accompanied by his Chiefs. He emphasized that the factory, located in Otorho Idjerhe, had been shut down 12 to 15 years ago due to manipulations by influential figures in the cement sector.
At its peak, the factory had provided 2,000 direct jobs and over 10,000 indirect jobs to the Nigerian economy.
The King expressed his faith in President Tinubu’s business acumen and understanding of the cement sector’s significance to the Nigerian economy. He lamented the job losses following the factory’s closure, particularly among young men and artisans.
“As a king of this land, I see pain and I believe that with the coming in of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. A man who is business oriented, a man who is economically viable, he knows the importance of the cement sector to the Nigerian economy. If we must make development of shelter as one of the basic requirements of human existence”.
He urged the President to reconsider the withdrawal of six licenses issued at a regional level, arguing that the cement industry was too vast for a single entity to monopolize. He highlighted that although 500,000 metric tons of cement had been approved for Madewell Portland Cement, only 10% of it reached Nigeria before the factory was shuttered.
“The Cement industry is too large for one man or one company to deal in, no individual can do this. As we speak of the 500,000 metric tonne that was approved for Madewell Portland cement. Only 50,000 metric tonne of this came to Nigeria. It was disposed of in less than four or five months there’s still over 450,000 metric tonne in China.
The King and his people requested that the federal government rectify the injustice done to Prince David Iweta, the CEO of Madewell Cement, emphasizing that the company had acted patriotically and refrained from legal action against the government.
“As it is, I and the good people of Idjerhe Kingdom have agreed to plead with the federal government to revisit that injustice that was done to our great son, Prince David Iweta. MD/CEO Madewell cement, that was done to a South South son, that was done to a Nigeria who is business oriented, who believes in the right way of doing things”.
The monarch said that the factory’s reopening would help meet Nigeria’s high cement demand and criticized the decision to halt imports, which had left 450 million metric tons of cement stranded in China. He expressed his belief that the government should recognize the detrimental effects of allowing one person to control the cement industry.
“Madewell as an industry player is being very patriotic. Some of them went to court. They collected a huge amount of money from the federal government. But he didn’t go to court because he believed that a day like this will come. And I believe that Mr. President as a listening President will listen to this very important cry and order.
“The reopening of this factory will hell to resolve the high demand for cement. As we speak, no 2, or 3, or 4 companies can get enough cement to meet cement consumption for Nigerians. So the best decision the government took then was to ensure that there is a Portland cement factory, one in each region that is outside the major players and this the licenses that were issued to them was for them to first import cement”.