Ganduje, Kano leaders wade in; meet Dangote, Rabiu

The latest clash between two of Nigeria’s richest men, Aliko Dangote and Abdul Samad Rabiu, over sugar production in Nigeria has been settled by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano and Aminu Dantata, a prominent northern billionaire who is Mr Dangote’s uncle.

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that the dispute between the duo is over who controls the sugar market in Africa’s biggest economy.

While Mr Dangote accuses his competitor of attempting to appropriate an undue advantage, Mr Rabiu says Africa’s richest man wants to monopolise the market and manipulate prices. Mr Dangote denied the price-fixing allegation in a statement.

On Thursday, Abba Anwar, Mr Ganduje’s spokesperson, said in a statement that the Kano Emirate and Kano State Council of Imams resolved the rift between the two men who hail from Kano, thanks to Mr Dantata’s intervention.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and Aliko Dangote

Mer Anwar said the reconciliation meeting took place at the Kano governor’s lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, Wednesday.

They agreed to work together and ensure sufficient supply of sugar to meet local demand, the statement said.

According to the document, “they all dismissed allegation that Dangote was planning to see to the increase of sugar price, through pressuring BUA to succumb to the increment. They described that allegation as baseless and lacking any iota of truth.”

Mr Rabiu, chair of BUA Group, in a February letter to Minister of Commerce, Trade and Investment Niyi Adebayo alleged Mr Dangote intended to eliminate his sugar business from competition and establish a monopoly in the sugar trade, going further to say Mr Dangote felt threatened by the potential of BUA Sugar’s Lafiagi and Port Harcourt refineries to “drive the prices of sugar downwards for Nigeria and Nigerians.”

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje chairing the meeting.

Mr Anwar said “all the two business moguls agreed to work together as brothers for the growth and development of the nation at large. Assuring that, henceforth, there would be no differences, that could cause any disharmony between them.”

The commerce, trade and investment minister, representative of the Kano Emirate, Aminu Agundi, Chairman of the Council of Kano Imams, Muhammad Adam, the chief imam of Sheikh Ahmadu Tijjani Friday Mosque, Kofar Mata, Kano and the chairman of NEPZA, Adamu Panda, attended the meeting.

The Sugar War

Messrs Dangote and Rabiu, Africa’s richest and sixth richest men respectively according to Forbes’s estimate, have squabbled over compliance concerns relating to the backward integration policy of the Nigerian sugar industry, compounding an already knotty wrangle over the ownership of a cement site.

Mr Dangote told Mr Adebayo, in a letter seen by PREMIUM TIMES, that the establishment of a sugar plant by BUA International Limited in the Port Harcourt free trade zone was out of tune with export laws.

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“The mid-term review conducted by the NSDC (National Sugar Development Council) was clear in its conclusions – BUA has failed to invest substantively in local production or comply with its undertakings under its BIP,” Mr Dangote said in a letter co-signed with John Coumantaros, chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, which also makes sugar.

R-L Aminu Babba Danagundi, Abdussamad Rabiu, Abdullahi Ganduje, Aminu Dantatata, Aliko Dangote and unknown person.

“BUA intend only on importing and refining raw sugar whilst claiming to be investing in developing sugar plantations in order to qualify for quotas to import raw sugar.”

Relations between both men became soured in June 2020 when BUA Cement, where Mr Rabiu owns the majority interest, got a restraining order against Dangote Cement, also majority-owned by Mr Dangote, after the police stormed its three sites in Obu Okpella, Edo State.

BUA Group claimed Dangote Cement initiated the action.

“BUA takes serious exception to the ludicrous claims by its two major competitors that it aims to circumvent the BIP of the sugar industry – an initiative in which it has invested billions of Naira and is almost nearing completion,” it said in a rejoinder to the sugar policy contravention indictment.

“To thus claim that the BUA PH export focused refinery in an Export Zone will amount to an undermining of the NSMP (National Sugar Master Plan) is false.”

President Muhammadu Buhari consented to the establishment the Port Harcourt plant, according to Mr Rabiu.

BUA struck a deal with France’s hydrocarbons group, Axens, last September for the construction of a 200,000 barrels per day refinery and petrochemical plant in Akwa Ibom State, just slightly more than a year to the completion of Dangote’s 650,000 bpd oil refinery in Lagos.

Forbes’s estimate in January valued Dangote’s wealth at $12.1 billion and Mr Rabiu’s at $5.5 billion, making the latter Nigeria’s third richest man.

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