Erisco Foods Threatens to Shut down Operations, May Sack 1,500 Workers


Nume Ekeghe

Tomato paste producer, Erisco Foods Limited, which claims to employ 2,052 people, has threatened to shut down its factory, for lack of support from some government agencies.

The company has also given the federal government a 30-day ultimatum to support indigenous manufacturers or else it would relocate its business outside Nigeria.

The Chief executive officer, Erisco Foods Limited, Mr. Eric Odinaka Umeofia, said this yesterday at a press briefing in Lagos.

He said his company has been frustrated by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Ministry of Trade and Investment and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
Umeofia said: “Erisco Foods Limited has demonstrated enough patriotism and loyalty towards our dear country and we have risked enough of our investments and life. We will be forced against our patriotic wish to relocate our operations to a country where there is conducive and favourable environment for manufacturing if within 30 days from now nothing significant is done by the government to address these issues raised by us and give us our right to help Nigerians as we can never beg for our right to help our people and economy.”

“We want to give our cherished government the benefit of doubt because we are aware that the economic saboteurs do not want your good self and President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed. This will include the immediate laying off of 1,500 out of 2,052 of our staff in the factory and entail importing the same products into Nigeria, since this is the wish of these said government agencies.”

He further blamed government for lack of clear policies towards manufacturing, high interest rates and mass importation of products such as tomato paste which his company produces in Nigeria.

Umeofia also said: “Everything about manufacturing is being stampeded to die and as much as I have endured for the sake of the love I have for my country, however I would be forced to join the importers I have campaigned against.”

He added: “It is difficult accessing the various CBN’s intervention loans for manufacturers and farmers. For instance, the on-going expansion of our Katsina Project has been stalled principally due to lack of adequate government’s support for indigenous manufacturers and lack of market for made –in – Nigeria goods as well as access to funds. This project would have created 50,000 direct jobs within two years and more than 500,000 indirect jobs during the same period.”

There is an excessively high interest rates that discourages and balloons our cost thereby making the prices of our products high due to high cost of production and this is in addition that we currently generate our own power and it is it obvious difficulty by indigenous manufacturers in accessing FOREX after CBN promised manufacturers that they will be allocated 60% of their FOREX. It is unbelievable that for over two months, no FOREX has been allocated to Erisco Foods Limited where as the same FOREX are allocated daily for the importation of finished goods that disfigured Nigeria till today.”

He also faults that importers are given favorable audience compared to indigenous manufacturers.