Sokoto Forum of Progressive Minds
”Few months after it commissioned a new fertilizer company, Sokoto State Government…is partnering with a private firm to establish a textile factory…the state government will have 40% equity state in the company and we expect to start production towards the end of 2017” Sokoto State Government, 28th August, 2017.
This news was received with so much joy and praises by thousands of people within and outside the state. These joys and praises, as dogmatic and sycophantic as many of them are, have failed to watch out for some of the inconsistencies in the statement issued by the State Government because, as usual with politicians, they tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear. For instance, the statement issued by the Government said it was “partnering to establish a textile factory…to be located at Kalambaina” and later in the statement, it was said that “…work on the project has already reached 70% completion…” There is, of course, difference between “is partnering” and “has partnered”.
Again, the statement did not, for the sake of accountability and transparency, explain to the people some of the legal, administrative and economic processes followed in the purchase of stake in the dormant textile factory. It did not also tell us the amount spent by the State Government in buying the “equity stake” in the dead factory. This gives the Forum a reason to rise so many questions about the deal.
In the first place, there are some issues in the “establishment” and operations of the so-claimed fertilizer company with which the Government’s statement opened. We will dig that up in our subsequent retorts. So, let the sleeping dogs snore, at least, for now.
Now to the crux of this piece. But before that, the Forum wants to make it clear that the intention of our investigations and reporting their outcome is not in any way meant to embarrass or humiliate the Government of Sokoto state; it is to, in our own little way, enlighten the naïve ones among us, who may not have the privilege of looking at the issue of governance with a critical eye. Therefore, we commend the present government for taking some measures, even though with some missteps, in reviving the economy of the state. The intention is to call the attention of the government on these missteps.
The textile in question, which the statement said “will be established”, is a private textile factory situated along Kalambaina, directly opposite to the state NYSC secretariat, and it belongs to a former senator from kebbi, who we expect, owns Hijra Nigeria limited, the partnership company claimed by the Government. The textile factory has been dormant for over or close to a decade because the owner could not continue production. Our investigations revealed that the former Senator, as a “brother” (not by blood) to the Governor, approached him, perhaps, for some “lifeline”, as is usual with our politics. His issue was referred to the SA investment to the Governor, the late Aliyu Bala Sokoto (may he continue to rest in peace) and was asked to see how the Senator could be revived from his economic comma. Late Bala politely declined, by giving a series of suggestions to the Governor, which, of course were not too “fine” with the Governor. After Bala’s death, the office of the SSG was asked to take up the matter in order to sprinkle some “ruwan rijiyar Shehu” on the senator in order to wake him up from his economic slumber. The former Senator was not only sprinkled with the “ruwan rijiyar Shehu”, he was thrown in the whole of it.
From our investigations, this skeletal textile, the entire of which could be valued at not up to a hundred million naira (100,000,000), had forty percent (40%) of it bought by the State Government, at the cost of over three hundred million naira (300,000,000) without any transparent due process. We cannot confirm whether or not the payment has already been made, but the statement issued by the State Government makes us to conclude that the deal is already sealed:
“… all arrangements have been concluded for the successful take off of the project … we expect to start production towards the end of 2017.”
Towards the middle of September of 2017 is towards the end of 2017 and the factory is still dead as door nail.
As you read this piece, one family in Kebbi state is , perhaps, some 300, 000,000 naira richer and still maintains 60% share of a company bought with the state’s money without any fair, transparent process.
The state government said in the statement that:
“…work on the project has already reached 70% completion…”
Our investigators met the factory locked and there was no indication that anything was done to upgrade the dormant factory in ages (pictures of the present state of the factory were taken by our investigators)
In order to avoid the 7-billion naira Giginya-Shukura-Coral hotels fraud of the past administration, the Forum, on behalf of Sokoto people, seeks clarification to the following questions from the State Government for accountability sake:
Is there a budgetary allocation for this project in the 2017 budget?
Is it legal for a State Government to have equity stake in a dormant Limited Liability Company?
In fact, do dormant companies sell equity shares?
If the textile is to be revived before the State Government invests, who will be responsible for the revival?
When and how did the State Government find the present economic value of the textile?
When and how did the Government find the present Asset value of the textile?
When and how did the Government find out whether or not there are outstanding liabilities for the textile before it invested in it?
Have market demand and market analysis been conducted before investing in the textile? (It is a false claim, as issued in the statement, that “ large sections of our people are cotton farmers”)
Has the Government established a Market scope for the textile factory?
Who valued the textile (at least three standard, independent valuers should do so)
Is textile industry an economic priority for the state?
Was the textile up-to-date in its tax payment before its closure?
Unless the State Government provides convincing answers to these question, public resources would be wasted in reviving private businesses in the pretext of Public-Private Partnership. Previous collaborations by the present government with other private companies such as Erisco, an Italian leather processing company, (Bilya Sanda’s) organic fertilizer company and many more have not yet had effect on the economy of the state because they are either not implemented or not functional at all.