Handover of Iwopin Paper to Beulah, another milestone, says Sambo
The Vice President and Chairman of the National Council on Privatization (NCP), Arc. Mohammed Namadi Sambo has declared that the handover of Iwopin Pulp and Paper Company Limited (IPPC) to Beulah Technical Services Company Limited (BETCO) is another important milestone in the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration which seeks to revive the nation’s paper manufacturing companies and make Nigeria self-sufficient in paper products.
He made this known on Monday, 3 March 2014 in Iwopin, Ogun State at the handover ceremony of IPPC to the core investor, BETCO. The Vice President was represented by the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Mr. Benjamin Dikki.
The VP noted that the handover ceremony was a further attestation to Mr. President’s strict adherence to the rule of law, adding that: “This transaction started 11 years ago, but was only resolved in 2013 due to the willingness of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to abide by the dictates of the law”.
The Vice President further advised the core investor that the role of BPE did not stop with the handover; adding that the BPE would continue with its monitoring responsibilities as enshrined in the Share Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA).
He said that “Monitoring and enforcement is to ensure that the investor complies with the spirit and letter of the covenants in the SPA and implements the Post Acquisition Business Plan (PAP)”.
He however reassured that given the technical, managerial and capital investment plan presented by BETCO in the PAP, Federal Government was confident that BETCO was equipped to revive IPPC.
Earlier, Chairman of BETCO, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite said that his belief in Nigeria and the Nigeria legal system kept his hope alive for the past 11 years it took to assume control of IPPC.
He reassured the community that BETCO would be alive to its Corporate Social Responsibilities to create jobs for the immediate community and Nigeria at large and improve the economy of the area and by extension, Nigeria.
In his remarks, the representative of Ogun State Governor, Mr. Adebayo Fari expressed the excitement of the State Government in the hope of finally reviving IPPC by BETCO. He noted that: “For us in Ogun State I think this is one of the things we have been praying and wishing for, because part of our agenda is to rebuild Ogun State and when moribund companies are being revived it is a great joy and we want to be part of it”. He continued: “Again I would want to repeat the commitment of our government to partner with this company to make sure that all they have proposed in terms of support would be met so that the objectives of the investor will be realized and we pray that they too will as much as possible be alive to their responsibilities as contained in the agreement we are going to sign today”.
He further hoped that going forward; the intentions of the founding fathers of the plant would have been achieved.
The member, House of Representatives, representing Ijebu North/Ijebu East, Ogun Waterside Federal Constituency, Hon. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun enjoined the company to “embrace and encourage the catchment area policy of employing indigenes of the area as well as others from Ijebu East and Ijebu North particularly those who are from Ogun water side in ways that would impact socially and economically on the people of the state”. He advised the community against what he called “the Niger Delta militant attitude” but to work in harmony and total cooperation with the new investor.
You may recall that the privatization process of Iwopin Pulp and Paper Company Limited started in 2001 with the advertisement for expressions of interest published in 2002. BETCO won the bid with an offer price of N3.1 billion.
However, due to several unresolved issues, especially the forestry plantations concession license, BETCO refrained from paying the bid price and in the process, BETCO took the Federal Government to court to restrain the BPE from annulling the sale and realizing the bid bond of $750,000 without resolving the outstanding issues.
The core investor and BPE eventually negotiated an out of court settlement with the consent judgment obtained at the Federal High Court, Lagos on December 6, 2013. To conclude the transaction, BETCO was asked to pay N1 billion and in addition, compensate the land owners and secure the forestry concession license from both Ondo and Ogun State Governments.