There are strong indications that Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote is seriously feeling the pinch of the recession which has hit the Nigerian economy.
Two weeks into the second month of the year 2017, workers of Dangote Fertilizer and Dangote Refinery have not been paid their salaries for the month of January.
According to some workers of both organisations who spoke to ionigeria.com on the basis of anonymity, the inability to pay salaries is a sign of a bigger problem facing the refinery and fertilizer projects as multilateral and local financial institutions are no longer releasing funds to the projects as expected.
Our investigations further revealed that prior to now, salaries were paid between 24th and 27th of every month.
The unusual development, our investigations further revealed may not be unconnected with the current parlous state of the nation’s economy which is negatively affecting the confidence in the Nigerian economy by investors and financial institutions.
It would be recalled that while addressing the media in June 2016, Mr. Aliko Dangote stated that the refinery and fertilizer projects of Dangote Industries Limited are expected to create a minimum of 235,000 new jobs, both direct and indirect jobs, as it becomes operational in the first quarter of 2019.
He also stated that the projects would cost a minimum of $17 billion.
According to him, the $12 billion refinery would have a capacity of 650,000 barrels a day.
Lamenting the painful development. One of the affected staff said, “it is very true that we have not been paid January salary. Thus, many of us, especially the junior workers have not been able to pay our children’s school fees”.
“Since, I joined this company, this is the first-time salaries are being delayed and nobody has told us why. No memo, nothing. Management is not talking. As a result, we don’t know when we will be paid”, the worker added.
Speaking in the same vein, another worker said, “I have not received any salary this year. You know that after spending to celebrate Christmas and New Year, most workers become broke. So, not being paid January salary on time is very demoralizing”.
Signs that Dangote’s conglomerates are having problems first became apparent in October last year when some expatriate and Nigerian staff were laid-off.
In a letter signed by the President/CEO, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, dated October 20, 2016, Dangote stated that the group was constrained to take the ‘tough’ decision because of the present high cost of production.
The letter read in part: “This year has been a very challenging one for us as a business. The unavailability of foreign exchange, coupled with an unprecedented hike in exchange rate has resulted in increased costs across the organisation”.
However, Mr Tony Chiejina, Dangote’s Head of Corporate Affairs, later denied that the workers were disengaged because of economic recession but because of job overlap.