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Cement: Lawmakers summon Dangote, BUA, Lafarge, others to appear over product price hikes

Some Cement Brands in Nigeria

*Gaza Gbefwi, Chairman of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals, declares the Joint Committee of the Federal Legislature issues Dangote Cement, BUA, Lafarge, Ashaka, and other cement manufacturing companies a 14-day ultimatum to appear before it to explain the arbitrary increases in the prices of the building and construction commodity nationwide

Isola Moses| ConsumerConnect

Against the backdrop of high market prices of the product, the Nigerian House of Representatives, in the National Assembly (NASS), Abuja, FCT, has issued a 14-day ultimatum to Dangote Cement, BUA, Lafarge, Ashaka, and other cement manufacturing companies to appear before it to make their submissions over the arbitrary increases in the price of the commodity nationwide.

ConsumerConnect reports Mr Gaza Gbefwi, Chairman, House Committee on Solid Minerals, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, issued the directive during a public hearing to investigate the arbitrary increase in the price of cement in Nigeria by cement manufacturers.

The House Joint Committees on Commerce, Industry, Special Duties and Solid Minerals organised the public hearing

Earlier, the House March 13 this year had adopted a motion on the “Arbitrary increase in the price of cement by the cement manufacturers in Nigeria”, and constituted a joint committee to investigate and report back to it for further legislative action.

In his welcome address at the forum, Hon. Gbefwi said that Nigeria has a high housing deficit of about three million units and a huge infrastructural deficit.

However, it was gathered that none of the cement companies appeared or sent representatives to make submissions on their behalf at the public hearing Tuesday.

Gbefwi, who represents Karu/Keffi/Kokona Federal Constituency, Nasarawa State, who was visibly disturbed by the companies’ failure to appear before the House, said the Federal Legislature was not in receipt of a court order restraining it from inviting anybody or companies for investigative purposes.

“We are trying to see to the development of our country. Just as it was emphasised in the opening remarks, cement is to building what air is to every human being.

“In the human nature of the House, because we owe them a duty of care because they are equally Nigerians, we are giving them 14 days to make their submissions,” stated the Chairman, House Committee on Solid Minerals.

According to him, if they fail to appear, “as we have sworn to uphold the constitution, we will use everything within our powers to make sure that Nigerians are not taken for granted and are not exploited.

“We will not sit back while some companies declare billions in naira and dollars every day while our people can barely afford to get a decent roof over their heads.”

He equally noted: “We have seen in Lagos where you have Nigerians under the bridge and paying rent. Why? If this product was available, I do not believe we would go to that length. Moreover, God has given to this nation, resources in abundance.

“So, this joint committee resolves to give them 14 days from now, and not 14 working days but 14 days to make sure that they make their submissions and appear before this House.”

Earlier in his remarks, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Abbas Tajudeen, represented by the Deputy Speaker Benjamin Kalu, has assured Nigerians of the readiness of the House to come up with appropriate legislation to encourage the industrialisation of the country.

Kalu also assured the cement companies invited for deliberations not to see their invitation as a witch-hunting mission.

The House, he stated, is only interested in assisting the country in resolving the challenges in the building sector occasioned by frequent hikes in the prices of cement.

“We are committed to collaborating with both cement manufacturers and end-users, believing this is the most effective way to improve the quality of life and standard of living for our citizens.

“We are also dedicated to enacting laws that prevent a recurrence of the factors that led to the current situation,” said the Deputy Speaker.

Kalu further explained: “Our goal is to inform Nigerians about the industry’s current state and collaboratively find solutions to navigate the challenges.

“The persistent rise in cement prices has had a detrimental impact not only on the building environment but also on the entire economy.

“Cement is a fundamental component used in construction projects like bridges, dams, houses, waterworks, and road infrastructure. This makes addressing this issue paramount.”

Referencing a research by the African Development Bank (AfDB), Kalu said there is a housing deficit of up to 16.9 million units, adding that Lagos, Ibadan, Kano, and Abuja, have a 20 per cent rise in housing needs yearly.

“The current total output in the formal housing sector is estimated at not more than 100,000 units,” said he.

The Deputy Speaker asserted that bridging this gap requires affordable and accessible cement prices for both the government and the private sector.

The Legislator said: “While factors like exchange rates have contributed to the price increases across various commodities, it is encouraging to see the positive results of the ‘Renewed Hope’ administration’s policies under the leadership of Bola Tinubu.

“Notably, the Naira has shown remarkable strength against the Dollar in recent weeks, and Fitch Ratings, a global credit rating agency, recently revised Nigeria’s credit outlook to positive from stable.”

Gbefwi, Chairman of the House Committee on Solid Minerals, earlier in his address, had noted that “the recent events that led to the skyrocketing of the price of cement in Nigeria has been worrisome and of great concern as it is inflicting untold hardship on Nigerians.

“To close this gap, both government and the private sector must be articulate and deliberate in putting the right policies and parameters in place that can promote, induce and or encourage development.”

According to him, the cost of cement is higher in Nigeria compared to other countries in Africa using the current exchange rate of the dollar to local currencies.

He also disclosed: “Our review of cement prices in other countries like Kenya, India and Zambia for 2021 alone shows that Nigeria has the highest price of cement using the official exchange rates for each country.

“Nigeria’s price of cement doubles that of India at a difference of 69 per cent. Similarly, the price is 29 per cent higher than that in Kenya and 39 per cent higher in Zambia; hence the need for us to come together and find out why.”

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