• To disengage 1,500 staffs immediately
After numerous complaints of lack of support by the government for his company and the manufacturing sector in general, the Chief Executive Officer, Erisco Foods Limited, Mr. Eric Odinaka Umeofia, has said he will relocate his factory from of the country to begin importation of tomato paste.
However, the federal government has repeatedly dismissed Umeofia’s claims, stating recently that between 2014 and 2016, Erisco has received N3billion subsidised credit at single digit from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Erisco Foods which claims to have the largest tomato paste factory in Africa and the largest in Nigeria, said it is one of the recent manufacturers to shut down operations due to lack of federal government’s support.
The CEO said this yesterday at a press briefing in his office, stating that he would relocate his factory to China and import the same product which he was producing here in Nigeria.
He also said he would also commence the sack of 1,500 staff in batches immediately and that this process would commence once he exhausts the raw materials in his factory.
Umeofia said: “You would recall that we had given government 30 days after much and pressure to shutdown long ago when our colleagues had closed down for over months.”
“We have written and have been explaining to all relevant government agencies. Our expectation was for government to do the needful by placing total ban on the importation of tomato paste as they did in cement, fruit juice etc. Erisco Foods Limited is one of the few patriotic companies in Nigeria whose sole desire is to help in the development of our only country Nigeria. We are the biggest tomato processing plant in Africa and the fourth largest in the world.”
He further added: “Our relocation to another country will further diminish the capacity of our economy to grow and consequently affect negatively all known economic development indices. Specifically, we are aware that if major tomato paste manufacturers like Erisco Foods Limited exits, we bet that fresh tomatoes will continue to waste in the farms while Nigeria will be spending over $1billion to import the same products annually.
“The government refused to support indigenous manufacturers with a loan of less than $100million to solve the problem permanently, what a contradictory economic management; who is fooling who? The sad story about this is that most of the importers are Indians, Chinese and Lebanese.”
“This will be a big shame to Nigeria and particularly the government agencies like NAFDAC, CBN, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment that are robustly supporting the importation of a product that can easily be produced in our country but they will not care due to their selfish interest. We predict that it will take Nigeria not less than 25 years to recover from the impact of this misadventure.
Despite all the noise and preaching by some government agencies to deceive Nigerians, we are experienced enough to know where to put our investment and make profit. Nobody will be foolish enough to leave his own country to do business in another country if he is making minimum profit in his own country of birth.”