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Monday, 29 September 2014

Unease as Benue Sells off Remaining Shares in Dangonte Cement

Dangote cement
There is considerable tension in Benue State over the sale of Dangote Cement shares held in trust for the indigenes by the Benue Investment and Property Company Limited.
The sell-off, which is taking place on the floor ot the Nigerian Stock Exchange, has erased about 30 million shares, valued at over N7 billion off the original over 90 million shares, which serves as portfolio investment for the state and the parastatals.
Sources, however, said that the government plans to sell all the shares, before the elections setting a target of N20 billion from the exercise. If carried through, Benue State would have lost all the shares of its portfolio investment in the cement manufacturing conglomerate.
Investigation revealed that many Benue indigenes are taken aback by the government’s decision which they say is to deprive the people of their priced investment in Dangote Cement.
Some top leaders of the Action for Progressive Change, APC, queried the motive behind the sale and called on the state government to urgently clear the air over the development to avoid any untoward reaction from the people.
It was gathered that a considerable number of persons questioned the rational by the state government to deprive its people of what they termed, “this valuable investment,” at a time the company is doing well in the capital market.
They feared that if no action is taken to prevent the wholesale sale of the shares, the state would be the loser, since the proceeds so far realized have not been invested in any profitable venture, nor disclosed to the State House of Assembly for appropriation as required by law.
They cited the case of what transpired in Delta State where its shares in Airtel were surreptitiously disposed and the proceeds invested as private equity in the defunct Oceanic Bank.
“We suspect the state government is building a war chest for the 2015 elections by the surreptitious manner the share are being sold. Otherwise, what stops it from informing the citizens of the state about it?
“Did the government obtain the consent of the State House of Assembly before selling the shares?
Where is the money realized so far from the transaction kept? These and other pertinent questions will be asked by us , “an APC chieftain from the state said.
Culled: Vanguard

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