Atedo Peterside, a Nigerian economist and entrepreneur, has criticised the Nigerian government’s decision to exempt Dangote Industries Limited from its land border closure, saying it is a move “rigged in favour of a handful of well-connected persons.”
Michel Puchercos, the Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Cement, said on an investor call in Lagos that President Muhammadu Buhari‘s government gave its authorization for Africa’s biggest producer to export cement to Niger and Togo in the third quarter for the first time in ten months.
Puchercos said that the export was made possible “through authorization given by this administration.”
Many Nigerians, including Peterside, have described the move as yet another case of nepotism, this time in favor of Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa.
Peterside said in a tweet:
Allowing legitimate exporters & importers to move their goods across the border should be a no-brainer.
Why refuse everybody else & allow only one company (Dangote)? This is why some of us argue that the Nigerian economy is rigged in favour of a handful of well-connected persons.
Nigerian authorities closed borders with neighboring countries including Benin and Niger to curb smuggling and boost local production.
Although the blockade encouraged the consumption of locally grown produce such as rice, it hurt factories across West Africa, which rely on Nigeria’s market of 200 million people.
The exemption to Dangote Cement is seen as a softening of the government’s position on a border closure that started in August last year, and could open the way for other businesses to fully resume exports across the country’s land barriers.