Unease as Benue sells off over 30m Dangote Cement shares •Opposition kicks

Posted by News Express | 28 September 2014 | 3,872 times

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There is considerable unease in Benue State, North-Central Nigeria, over the sale of Dangote Cement shares held in trust for the indigenes by the Benue Investment and Property Company Limited.

News Express learnt that the sale, on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, has already 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 its parastatals.

The Gabriel Suswam administration is said to be planning to sell all the shares before the 2015 elections and hopes to realise about 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, saying that it is a smart move by Suswam, whoc completes his maximum second tenure of four years in May, to deprive the people of their priced investment in Dangote Cement.

A good number of Benue indigenes are questioning the sale of what they termed “this valuable investment,” at a time Dangote Cement is doing well in the capital market. They are expressing fear 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 realised 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.

Some top leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have queried the motive behind the sale and called on the Suswam administration to urgently clear the air over the development to avoid any untoward reaction from the people.

One of them said: “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 realised so far from the transaction kept? These and other pertinent questions are begging for answers.”

•Photo shows Governor Suswan.

Source: News Express

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