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Verses From Edith






Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two days ago, a front page headline on Hallmark newspaper screamed that stakeholders in the cement industry have blamed the rising incidents of building collapse in Nigeria on the use of the 32.5mpa grade of cement. At a time Nigerians in their millions have been screaming against what clearly looks like a government-assisted monopoly in the cement industry, it comes as shock that a newspaper should put such a story on its front page.

From the onset, it looks like a sponsored story, such that only a Hallmark newspaper that prints fewer than 5,000 copies daily and which is always in search of lifelines, could publish. The fact that only Hallmark newspaper carried such a story makes the entire thing ridiculous. This is given that if “stakeholders” in the Nigerian built sector would ever want to talk to the public through any newspaper, they know where to go and Hallmark would never be in their radar.

But curiosity would encourage anyone who sees such a story to read a bit deeper. Hidden inside the body of the story was the name of a certain Joseph Makoju that was referred to as the Chairman, Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.

A simple search on Google revealed that the story was sponsored by the Dangote Group, apparently in response to the angst of millions of worried Nigerians that have lampooned the monopolistic tendencies of Dangote and his collaborators in government.

Joseph Makoju was made Chairman of Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria because of his relationship with Alhaji Aliko Dangote. Wikipedia shares his resume as follows:

“Engineer Joseph Oyeyani Makoju (born 13 July 1948) served as Special Adviser (Electric Power) to the President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria under two separate administrations. He is now Honorary Adviser on Electric Power to the current President/Commander-in-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria (effect from 20 May 2008). He is also the Special Adviser to the President/Chief Executive, Dangote Group, from 2009 to date, the chairman, Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, as well as West African Power Pool Executive Board.”

How possibly can a man that serves as Special Adviser to Dangote possible speak on behalf of stakeholders in the Nigerian building industry. From what could be found on the internet, Joseph Makoju may be the middle man that has been incubating the monopolistic tendencies of Dangote around government circles.

Makoju is a serial government apologist, having served as Special Adviser to three past presidents of Nigeria. He has always been around the corridors of Aso Rock, where he is likely to have been planted to perfect the anti-competition agenda of Dangote Group. For such a person to pretend to speaking on behalf of the entire building industry is the height of hypocrisy.

Makoju should actually be telling Nigerians how he ran aground, West African Portland Cement Company, a firm he managed, according to Wikipedia, for almost a decade. West African Portland Cement was the largest cement company in Nigeria before and during Makoju’s time. Today, the company is no more.

There are other critical questions that Makoju should answer. At the time he was at the helm at WAPCO, was he producing the 42.5 grade of cement? Was he not producing the 32.5mpa grade? How many buildings that were built with his WAPCO products have collapsed on account of his cement being substandard? Would he ever publicly admit before Nigerians that his WAPCO cement were not good enough for building purposes at the time. If WAPCO was still producing and he is still the managing Director, would he lead this so-called stakeholders group advocating for the ban of the 32.5mpa grade of cement?

Nigerians know a lot better these days and Makoju, who is a proven poor manager of resources cannot hoodwink anyone.

We all still STAND to #SayNotoMonopoly

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