As the price of cement continues to soar unabated, the paramount ruler of Idjere kingdom in Ethiopia West Local Government Area of Delta State, HRH. King Obukohwo Monday Whiskey, Udurhie 1, the Ovie of Idjere kingdom, has called on President Bola Tinubu to immediately revisit the issue that led to the closure of Madewell Portland Cement Company located in Idjere as well as other cement companies in other regions of the country.

The Monarch, while on an inspection visit to the facility at Otorho Idjere along the bank of Ethiope River, decried the multi-million investment left to rot due to government policy in 2009, saying the closure of the company about 15 years ago threw thousands of his subjects out of job.

The Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom urged President Tinubu to reconsider the withdrawal of six licences from cement factories, which were previously issued at regional levels.

According to the Monarch, the reopening of the long-closed Madewell Cement factory would help address the high demand for cement, and that no two, three or four companies can produce enough cement to meet the country’s needs adding that, continuous closure of other cement companies will further exacerbate the cement shortage in the country as over 450 million metric tons of cement are left stranded in China.

“Madewell as an industry player is being very patriotic. Some of them went to court. They collected a huge amount of money from the Federal Government. But he didn’t go to court because he believed that a day like this will come. Mr. President as a listening President will listen to this very important cry and give an order.

“As we speak, 500,000 metric tonne that was approved for Madewell Portland cement, only 50,000 metric tonne of this came to Nigeria. It was disposed off in less than four or five months. There’s still over 450,000 metric tonne in China,” the monarch said.

“The best decision the government took then was to ensure that there is a Portland Cement Factory, one in each region that is outside the major players and the licences that were issued to them was for them to first import cement.

“If we must make the development of shelter one of the basic requirements of human existence, the cement industry is too large for one man or one company to deal with; no individual can do this.’’

The Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom believes that the Madewell Cement factory was unfairly shut down by those with influence in the cement sector, and argued that the cement industry is too large to be controlled by a single entity, and that the factory should be allowed to reopen so that it can help to meet the high demand for cement.

The Ovie highlighted the significant impact that the Madewell Cement factory had on the economy, both in terms of direct and indirect jobs, he also noted that only a small percentage of the cement capacity approved for the factory was actually produced before the factory was shut down, preventing it from reaching its full potential before the closure.

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The king said, “We are here at the Bank of River Ethiope to do inspection of the Madewell Portland Cement factory in Otorho Idjere. As at, lets say 12 years ago, when this project was brought down by cabal in the cement industry, it already created over 2,000 direct jobs and over 10,000 indirect jobs to the Nigeria economy. As a king of this land, I feel pained and I believe that, with the coming in of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a man who’s business oriented, a man who’s economically viable, he knows the importance of the cement sector in the economy.

“If we must make development, shelter is one of the basic requirements of human existence and what I will refer to as one of the most needed materials to build house is cement and if we have more cement factory, Portland or production or whatever name you call it, what is most important to Nigerians now is that cement is bought at an affordable rate.

“What you’re seeing here, between 2008 and 2009, when this place was shut down, a lot of young men and artisans were working here.

“I came in here to plead with Mr. President to revisit the issue of the six licences that were issued at regional basis, there’s Madewell Cement at Otorho Idjere, working to supply products to the entire South South, there’s BCCL at Gboko, to service the Middlebelt, there’s one in the South East, there’s one in North Central, there’s one South West and it’s a better arrangements to ensure that we have cement availability.

“That industry is too large for one man or one company to dictate! And this is a product that is desirable for everybody if you must build, you must ask of cement and we cannot if we must develop to abandon this kind of multi-billion naira investment that is mostly financed by loan as we speak.

“No two three companies can get enough cement for Nigerians. The best decision government took was to ensure that there was cement factory, one in every region outside the major players. And the licences that were issued to them were for them to first import cement.

“They were given 500,000 metric tonnes, and by the time you’re done with that, you would have made arrangements for your production and that was what Prince David Iweta and his group was doing diligently as at the time this factory was shut down, they only had taken delivery of 50,000 metric tonnes of the product, and what that translates to is that 450,000 were still in China and when you cannot bring in what you have borrowed money to bring into the country to sell, you can’t be talking of production.

“Go to some West Africa countries, cement still sells at N2,000 per bag, but here we are buying cement for over N10,000 per bag, if this factory was here, of course you know the local implication,” the monarch said.

Nigerian Observer gathered that, a bag of cement is presently selling for as high as N10,500 in Warri and while in Ughelli a bag if cement goes for as high as N13,000 per bag.