BUA/Dangote Sugar war: Trade Minister Adebayo goofs, backtracks, reverses self
The BUA versus Dangote sugar war has taken a new turn as the Trade and Industries Minister, Mr. Adeniyi Adebayo, has realized his goof and reversed an earlier directive on sugar importation from free trade zones into Nigeria.
Barely days after he sent out an earlier letter to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed prohibiting the importation of sugar from free trade zones, the Trade Industries and Investment Minister backtracked and reversed himself.
Acting on a controversial petition written to him by Aliko Dangote, the Chairman Dangote Industries Limited, and Chairman, Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC, Mr John Coumatros, Adebayo issued a directive banning sugar importation.
He wrote a letter which he copied the Managing Director Nigeria Ports Authority, Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation prohibiting the sugar importation from the country’s Free Trade Zones.
Observers noted that the move was targeted at BUA sugar refinery as well as its investments.
Recall that BUA Group Chairman, Samad Rabiu had reacted to the petition by revealing that his investments in sugar, especially the Port Harcourt project did not pose any threat to the country’s sugar policy.
According to Samad Rabiu, his was project indeed, meant to checkmate arbitrary increase in prices and which will ultimately benefit the ordinary Nigerian on the street.
Curiously, some agencies of the Federal Government, especially the NPA, had acted on the Minister’s directive by directing all Terminal operators to ensure strict compliance with the Minister’s order.
The decision followed despite a court injunction refraining not only the Ministry but all government agencies from disturbing its operations pending the determination of a suit filed by BUA group.
The move to disrupt BUA’s activities despite the injunction clearly embarrassed the government, hence Adebayo’s quick reversal of his earlier stance and letter to the Finance Minister directing that the action be stopped.
As for Hadiza Bala Usman who was in a hurry to overlook the court order, she has since been suspended from office as the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority.
Meanwhile, an Acting CEO has been appointed in person of Mohammed Koko, the erstwhile Executive Director, Finance and Administration.