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Indignity of Labour: The Bitter Tales Inside Nigeria Flour Mills’ Sugar Eestate

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Sunti Flour Mill Estate
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By NGIJ team of Oluwasegun Abifarin and Olawale Abideen

The smoke of accusation and counter accusation has continued to rise over the indignity of labour and bitter working condition by workers of Sunti Golden Sugar Estates Limited, a subsidiary of Flour Mills Nigeria Plc.

Located on the banks of River Niger, in Mokwa, Niger state, Sunti Golden Sugar Estates Limited features 17, 000 hectares of irrigable farmland and a Sugar mill that process 4,500 metric tons of sugarcane per day. At full capacity, the estate is expected to produce 1 Million tons of Sugarcane which roughly translates into 100,000 metric tons of sugar yearly.

When Flour Mills of Nigeria took up loans amounting to about 60 Billion Naira facilitated by the Nigerian Government to acquire and complete the Sunti Farms in order to establish a sugarcane farm and set up a factory, the workers and host communities thought their sweet and happy moment had arrived.

And on 15th March, 2018, when the company was officially launched amidst pomp and pageantry, expectations and hopes were raised as there were promises of better living for host communities, their youths and the workers.

This eventually turned to a forlorn dream going by the layers of worker/labour indignity going on in the company.

One star case till date is the story of Mr. Amusa Monsuru Adewale who joined Nigeria Flour Mills on the 9th of April, 2014 as a Draftsman. The Human Resource Manager, Mr. Chatjock Chom on the basis of the strong recommendation from Adewale’s boss, Mr. John Beverley, confirmed his appointment as an Architect and also as a senior staff with job class 8 reward level 10.

In the course of Adewale’s employment, the company seconded him to Sunti Golden Sugar Estates Ltd where he has been working directly under the supervision of Engr. Akeem Kolawole Gbadamosi.

But on the 15th day of September, 2016 Mr. Adewale had an industrial accident on site which affected his left eye. Despite the accident, he continued to work diligently in the company, but on the 7th day of November, 2016 his was diagnose with severe keratitis on the left eye and he was placed on drugs. After some months, the Doctor recommended a Cornea transplant surgery for a clearer vision.

On the 3rd of June 2018, he received the bill for the surgery which he submitted to the Human Resource department. Prior to the submission of the bill, Adewale alleged that his boss, Gbadamosi had threatened on different occasions, to sack him “without any reason.” And upon submission of the bill, Adewale said he received two queries within one week.

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After answering the query, Gbadamosi recommended to the Human Resource department for him to be sacked, but the recommendation was declined and instead a 5 day suspension was given to Adewale on the 2nd of July 2018.

After his resumption on the 9th of July, Gadamosi demoted him to the position of a store keeper .And by a letter dated 9th of April, 2019, Adewale was sacked, citing medical grounds as the reason.

Adewale’s Counsel, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN however disputed this, saying his client is medically fit to undertake his responsibilities and that no medical examination was conducted to support the company’s claim.

In a bid to resolve the matter amicably, Flour Mills invited Adewale and his lawyers to a meeting in Apapa, Lagos on 21st June, 2019 by 10:00a.m, whereat it was agreed to convey the resolution to the management of the company and get back to Adewale’s team to know the next alternative to explore. Till date, nothing has happened.

Another sordid case is that of Adeleke Wuraola, a Procurement Manager Sunti Golden Estate. As one of the oldest employees in the company, he was reputed to be very intelligent and good at his job, but he allegedly had issues with the wife of the General Manger.

It was gathered that for years, they plotted his removal until he fell into the trap of one Magdalene, a female staff allegedly brought by the GM and his wife to do the hatchet job. “Magdalene does not have the intelligence and confidence to come up with this grandiose scheme. She is being pushed and encouraged by someone in management,” Adeleke said.

For now the GM is said to have brought a family friend who is out of job from South Africa to replace Adeleke.

The case of Dr. Akande Yusuf who manages the Sunti Clinic is another sore point. Yusuf, had reported verbal assault and several episodes of interference in patient management as well as the open confrontation on the professionalism of the medical team at the clinic by the General Manager’s wife.

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Specifically Yusuf recalled that on January 30th, 2019, the wife of the General Manager came to the clinic, assembled all the clinic staffs and dressed him down that he is “useless, unprofessional, and that she is ashamed of me.”

The medical doctor added that GM wife added that “she is the one paying my salary and that she can fire me if she wants; and when the GM’s wife is talking, I should not say anything ever again that I am disrespectful for thinking I can say something; that we are all fucking idiots.”

In his letter to the HR Manager, dated February 14, 2019, Yusuf lamented that “I have been brooding over these utterances in the last two weeks against the background of prior confrontational threats and intimidation from the GM and his wife on 18th of October 2018 in which case a lot of hurtful words and insults were hauled at me.

“Permit me to sincerely note that the derogatory remarks, verbal abuse, offensive words, threats, emotional and psychological subjugation from both the General Manager and his wife are having their toll on me and by extension, the other medical staffs. Our morale are down.”

On the frosty relationship between the company and the host community, Samuel Iboroma, FMN Corporate Communication Manager had maintained that Sugar Golden Sugar Estates has enjoyed very cordial relations with its host communities.

He also sent a letter of appreciation sent by the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar acknowledging the receipt of four thousand cartons of chicken indomine noodles donated to the community by FMN recently.

But a recent letter by the host community addressed to the Chairman of FMN points to another direction. They complained that the Sunti GM “has been showing so much disrespect to the community leaders and the citizen together with the Community Liaison Officer, Mr. Samuel.”

According to them, “the community no longer has source of income for our livelihood because of the activities of the Company and the autocratic nature of the GM has also led to the termination of the appointment of many skilled, and experienced personnel from the company.”

Sources informed us that communities such as Kusogi, Jaagi, Batagi, Kupanti, etc suffered most from the activities of Sunti Golden Estate.

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On the allegation of poor working condition, Iboroma argued that the “assertions all wrong,” adding that “like most of our investments in the food value chain, we are creating jobs and empowering our communities through active collaboration.”

But some of the workers who spoke to our correspondent in the estate last week countered Iboroma’s assertion arguing that “slavery continues here.” They pointed to the meagre salary and the un-abating casualization of workers as a major twin evil. “A graduate earns N30, 000 here, an amount too little for the so called expatriates to spend at a shopping,” one of the workers told us last week.

Attempts to get the company’s reaction to the latest allegations were futile last week. There was no reply to mails and messages sent to Iboroma’s through phone, wattsapp and emails address.

Instead, Sources at Sunti hinted early this week that the company is planning to bring some selected journalists to the Estate to ”come and see things for themselves.”

“It is expected that journalists will be around within this week, and they have been improving on things they believe could implicate them. Presently, they have been going about begging workers not to speak ill of the company,” a worker told our correspondent last week.

Strangely, some of the journalists have also been calling our correspondent to back off from the story, pleading that “Flour Mills is their client.”

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

Business and Economy

FAAC Shares N680.783 Billion May 2022 Revenue To FG, States And LGCs

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The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) has shared a total sum of N680.783 Billion May 2022 Federation Account Revenue to the Federal Government, States and Local Government Councils.   

This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) for June 2022, held in Abuja.  

The N680.783 billion total distributable revenue comprised distributable statutory revenue of N385.004 billion,  distributable Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue of N198.512 billion and Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) revenue of N97.267 billion. 

In May 2022, the total deductions for cost of collection was N36. 996 billion and total deductions for transfers and refunds was N186.672 billion.  

The balance in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) was $35.377 million.  

The communiqué confirmed that from the total distributable revenue of N680.783 billion; the Federal Government received N229.563 billion, the State Governments received N241.824 billion and the Local Government Councils received N175.942 billion. The sum of N33.454 billion was shared to the relevant States as 13% derivation revenue. 

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A gross statutory revenue of N589.952 billion was received for the month of May 2022. This was lower than the N635.037 billion received in the previous month by N45.085 billion.  

From the  N385.004 billion distributable statutory revenue, the Federal Government received N185.197 billion, the State Governments received N93.934 billion and the Local Government Councils received N72.419 billion. The sum of N33.454 billion was shared to the relevant States as 13% derivation revenue.   

In the month of May 2022, the gross revenue available from the Value Added Tax (VAT) was N213.179 billion.  This was higher than the N178.825 billion available in the month of April 2022 by N34.354 billion.  

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From the N198.512 billion distributable Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue, the Federal Government received N29.777 billion, the State Governments received N99.256 billion and the Local Government Councils received N69.479 billion. 

The Federal Government received N14.590 billion; the State Governments received N48.634 billion and the Local Government Councils received N34.043 billion from the N97.267 billion Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL). 

According to the Communiqué, in the month of May 2022,  Companies Income Tax (CIT) and Value Added Tax (VAT) recorded considerable increases, Import Duty increased marginally while Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) and Excise Duties decreased marginally. Oil and Gas Royalties decreased significantly.    

Author Profile

Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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Non-interest TAJBank Reports 433% PBT in 2021 Financial Year

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Vibrant Board is Key to Local Capacity Building – Lee Maeba
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…as balance sheet grows to N110bn

The second non-interest Bank, TAJBank Limited, has recorded more milestones in its second year of operations with its profit before tax (PBT) surging to N1.6 billion in FY2021, representing 433% improvement over the preceding year’s profit.  

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This is even as the multiple award-winning lenders, which recently received the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) certification in recognition of its globally recognized information security standards in all areas of its operations, also recorded 117% growth in gross revenue from N3.3 billion in FY2020 to N7.2 billion in FY2021.

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In the period under review, the bank recorded positive indicators which showed the remarkable growth that the nascent bank continues to achieve. push({}); The bank’s financial results showed a rise in its balance sheet figure from N50 billion in FY2020 to N110 billion in the FY2021 recording a 122% growth.

The bank also achieved a leap in shareholders’ funds during the year which also marked some great improvements in the Bank’s financial results coming from the previous year.

The non-interest bank’s audited financial statements also reflected outstanding positive indices which demonstrated its management’s professionalism in handling investors’ funds despite serious economic headwinds.

TAJBank’s drive for deposit base growth showed in the financial results as customer deposits also remarkably grew in the year under review, increasing by 99% over the previous year’s value and representing the highest in the industry.

Also, the bank also rapidly expanded its branch network by 22 new branches and business offices within the period under review.

Speaking on the financial results, the Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Hamid Joda, noted that “since commencing operations two years ago, TAJBank has continued to record giant strides in the financial services industry.

“It is on record that we achieved break-even in our 8th month of business, recorded profit in our first year of operations while also wiping-off preoperational expenses in the first year of operation. Generally, the bank has continued to record excellent financial performance within the short period of its existence”, he added.

The Executive Director, Mr. Sherif Idi, while reacting to the results said: “TAJBank has a healthy appetite for growth and for excellence and these results are a testament to what we portray and what we are about.”

He also stressed that the bank “is not looking at slowing down in its sustained commitment to continue to add value to our shareholders, surpassing our customers’ expectations in innovative products and services delivery and in ensuring that we continue to break frontiers in the Nigerian financial system.”

Author Profile

Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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Business and Economy

Reps Passes 2022 Budget of N17.1 Trillion

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Femi Gbajabiamila
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Ogechi Okorie

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed N17,126,873,917,692 as 2022 budget.

The budget was passed by the Green Chamber following the presentation of report by the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Muktar Betara.

The report was considered at the Committee of Supply presided over by the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and his deputy, Hon. Idris Wase.

According to the Bill passed by the lawmakers authorises the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the total sum of N17,126,873,917,692 (Seventeen Trillion, One Hundred and Twenty-Six Billion, Eight Hundred and Seventy-Three Million, Nine Hundred and Seventeen Thousand, Six Hundred and Ninety-Two Naira) only.

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N869,667,187,542 (Eight Hundred and Sixty-Nine Billion, Six Hundred and Sixty-Seven Million, One Hundred and Eighty-Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty-Two Naira) only is for Statutory Transfers while N3,879,952,981,550 (Three Trillion, Eight Hundred and Seventy-Nine Billion, Nine Hundred and Fifty-Two Million, Nine Hundred and Eighty-One Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifty Naira) only is for Debt Service.

N6,909,849,788,737 (Six Trillion, Nine Hundred and Nine Billion, Eight Hundred and Forty-Nine Million, Seven Hundred and Eighty-Eight Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty-Seven Naira) only is for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure while the sum of N5,467,403,959,863 (Five Trillion, Four Hundred and Sixty-Seven Billion, Four Hundred and Three Million, Nine Hundred and Fifty-Nine Thousand, Eight Hundred and Sixty-Three Naira) only is for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2022.

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According to Chairman committee on Appropriation Hon. Muktar Betara, the report was a result of work done on the submission of estimates by the president.

He observed that the 2022 budget would be the last to be fully implemented by the current administration.

According to him, the report took cognizance of the benchmark estimates and the financial/economic realities of current times.

He earlier urged members to support and approve the recommendations in the spirit of the harmonious execution of projects for the good of Nigeria.

The report was considered clause by clause and passed.

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The Green Chamber adjourned plenary till Tuesday, January 18th, 2022 following a motion for adjournment moved by the Leader of the House, Hon. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa

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