|Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, Chairman Bua Group|
According to investigations, BUA group, a Nigerian conglomerate, which has benefitted from federal government preferential trade incentives under the Backward Integration Policy has refused to join others in the same category to invest in real agricultural production and manufacturing.
In the vegetable oil sector, it was gathered that while other vegetable oil producers are investing in massive cultivation of oil palm plantations, BUA has done virtually nothing in terms of farming, instead it fully depends on importation of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) from Asia for refining in Nigeria with only very little value addition and economic activities created.
This business strategy said to be championed by BUA is blamed by experts for the continuous exportation of job opportunities that could have bailed a lot of Nigerians out of unemployment and poverty to other countries in Asia.
A market watcher noted: "It is disgraceful that BUA group that has received all sorts of incentives from the federal government, from hugely subsidised tariff and concessionary importation quotas over the years will not deem it necessary to begin to engage in actual production within the country. Mere importation of crude palm oil for packaging and distribution will never bring the needed economic advancement to this country."
According to investigations, PZ Wilmar which had been earlier criticised for the same issue has been seen to have acquired nearly 50,000 hectares of oil palm plantation from the Cross River State government and Obasanjo farms and they are currently rehabilitating the palm trees in this plantation, creating jobs for thousands of local people across the country.
"Rather, it is said to have just been a company that imports bulk of its raw materials, many of which can be produced locally, little value addition and a lot of smile to the bank with huge margins, shipping most of the jobs and economic activities that should have been created to Asia and South America from where the significantly processed raw materials are mainly imported.
"Certainly, with Nigeria's economy now the way it is, this is not the time to encourage the kind of quasi-manufacturing operation which BUA has been accused of championing. Forex supply has reduced by almost 60 per cent, revenue to the federal government has dipped by almost the same percentage and the situation is forecast to remain gloomy for a long time to come. So, for operators who are not ready to get their hands dirty in actual farming and manufacturing, Nigeria certainly is no more the ideal market for their operations," a source stressed.