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Cement price hike: Reps give Dangote, BUA, others 14 days to appear

Dangote Cement, BUA, IBETO and other stakeholders have been given a 14-day Ultimatum to appear before the House of Representatives Joint Committee to clear the…

Dangote Cement, BUA, IBETO and other stakeholders have been given a 14-day Ultimatum to appear before the House of Representatives Joint Committee to clear the air over the increase in cement price in the country.

This followed the failure of the companies and others to appear at its investigative hearing on Tuesday.

The joint committee, consisting of the House committees on solid minerals, Commerce, Industry and Special Duties, was set up by the House to ‘investigate the arbitrary increase in the price of cement In Nigeria by cement manufacturers’.

The House also summoned the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, to appear before the committee after failing to appear on Tuesday.

It ordered that the minister should appear Tuesday, May 21 while Dangote, BUA, IBETO and others are to appear on Monday, May 20, 2024.

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Chairman of the joint Committee who is also the Chairman, Committee on Solid Minerals, Rep. Jonathan Gaza Gefwi, berated the companies for shunning the invitation, said their actions was a pointer to their insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians.

In his opening remark earlier, Rep. Gefwi said that, a review of cement prices in other countries like Kenya, India and Zambia for 2021 alone showed that Nigeria had the highest price of cement using the official exchange rates for each country.

He said, “Nigeria’s price of cement doubles that of India at a difference of 69%, similarily the price is 29% higher than that in Kenya and 39% higher in Zambia. Hence the need for us to come together and find out why. In order to bring succour to our citizens while protecting investors alike.

“Our concern is for all legitimate businesses especially cement production companies in Nigeria to thrive and deliver their objective and services to the people in such a manner that can foster development”.

The joint committee chairman further emphasized on the importance of the public hearing and the need to de-emphasize the notion created by some companies relevant to the investigation that committees of parliament had no powers to invite private outfits.

He added, “It is on record that there is no Order of the Courts presented restraining the committee from exercising its functions under section 88(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as Ammended.

“The committees of parliament have always set-up public hearings to extract evidence from the public to guide it in taking decisions on matters that have direct bearing on the citizens such as this.

“However, an entity recognised as private under the Law, does not oust in entirety the Powers of the Committee to investigate its affairs especially when the attainment of the objectives of said entity heavily relies on the Resources of the populace.

“Let me also reiterate the objectives of the Legislative Powers and Privilges Act sections 4,5,6 and 7 on the Powers of committees to invite, investigate and summon any person for the purpose of extracting evidence on any matter, whether its public or private. Most especially when the matter affects the citizens and the people for which they represent”.

In his remark, the Chairman, House Committee on Commerce, Rep. Ahmed Munir said that, failure of any entity invited by the committee to appear before the joint  committee would give credence to the allegations that, the rise in the price of cement was an act of arbitrarines to unnecessary subject Nigerians to hardship and undermine government’s efforts to close the housing deficit in the country.

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