President Muhammadu Buhari released a list of items for which importers cannot access forex from the central bank of Nigeria. Cement is in that list.
In a bid to offset lack and augment local cement production, Governor Umahi of Ebonyi initiated peace moves that healed frosty relationships between the trio of communities, the government Ibeto Cement.
This followed the signing of deed of understanding/terms of settlement between NIGERCEM and representatives of the four host communities –Nkalagu, Nkalaha, Umuhuali, Amaezu and the Ebonyi State Government.
With the signing of the pact in Abakaliki on Friday, the legal battles that had in the past affected the reopening of the once foremost indigenous cement production firm has been put to rest.
The parties resolved that papers be filed in court as soon as possible so that all cases pending before the court could be withdrawn.
Recall that the immediate past administration, led by Chief Martin Elechi, had consistently closed their door for an out of court settlement, against Dr. Cletus Ibeto, who re-acquired the firm from Eastern Bulkcem and had tried to revamp the cement factory which was popularly known as NIGERCEM.
In 2012 for instance, the Elechi administration warned IBETO GROUP against what it called illegal entry into the premises of NigerCem premises, saying its ownership was a subject of dispute in the courts.
But on Friday, an elated Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi; Ibeto and the SSA to the Governor on Cement Production, Prince Sunday Ugwuocha, described the signing of the MoU as milestone towards the revitalization of the company.
Governor Umahi, who said he had in line with the popular demand of the host communities promised to allow Ibeto revamp the firm, noted that the journey to its realization was not an easy one.
He said, “When we were campaigning under divine mandate platform, the only request that the communities made was that Ibeto should be allowed to come and revamp NIGERCEM and we did promise them that that was going to be done.”
Engr. Umahi, who thanked the Cement Production Implementation Committee set up by his administration, for doing a good job, assured Ebonyi people that their 10% equity ownership of NIGERCEM was still intact.
“Let me announce to Ebonyi people that our 10% equity with NIGERCEM is still alive,” he assured as he described the land of Ebonyi as a land made up of limestone, gold, frankincense, silver, lead, zinc, etc.
He added, “My prayers all the time is for the land of Ebonyi to vomit all the limestones, the gold, frankincense, silver, bauxite, lead, zinc that the land has swallowed and it has started with Ibeto.
The core investor, Dr. Ibeto, praised Gov. Umahi, saying Ebonyians owed him (governor) for ensuring that the journey to revamp NigerCem started on a good footing.
He thanked governor Umahi for creating the enabling environment for the takeoff of NIGERCEM
The chairman, Cement Implementation Committee, Chief Fidelis Nwankwo, in his opening remarks, had said the signing of the deeds marked the realization of an age long struggle by the IBETO GROUP to revamp NigerCem.