Indigenous manufacturing company, Erisco Foods Limited threatens to sack workers and relocate its factory outside Nigeria.
The company which is said to be Africa’s largest tomato paste manufacturer in Africa has given the Nigerian government a 30-day ultimatum before they exit the country.
Chief Executive Officer of Erisco Foods, Mr. Eric Ordinaka Umeofia, said the company would lay off 1,500 employees and quit Nigeria for a more favourable business environment if things don’t change.
Erisco Foods presently has a production capacity raking for tomato paste ranking 4th in the world.
The company’s CEO said it may be forced to shut down its production in the country due to its inability to access foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria. for the procurement of machinery.
The foreign exchange, the CEO disclosed was for the procurement of machinery.
Mr. Umeofia made this known on Wednesday in Lagos when some of the company’s staffs held a protest, lamenting plans by the company to stop operations and lay off staff.
“It is difficult for indigenous manufacturers to access forex despite CBN’s promise to manufacturers that they will allocate 60% of forex to them.
“It is unbelievable that for over 2 months, no forex has been allocated to Erisco Foods whereas the same forex is allocated daily for the importation of finished goods.
“Products that can be easily produced locally like fish head, tomato paste, razor blade are on the forex bids of the various banks.”
Erisco Foods CEO lamented that the high interest rates charged by commercial banks, as well as policy constraints and importation were discouraging local production in the country.
He further added that the prices of the company’s products were high due to high cost of production. and this is in addition that we currently generate our own power.
Erisco Foods Gives Govt 30 Day Ultimatum
According to him, this is due to the fact that the company presently generates its own power supply to operate.
Mr. Umeofia disclosed that the Erisco Foods has lost over N3.5bn in a bid to industrialize the Nigerian economy.
He stated clearly that the company is ready to move its production section to another country.
Umeofia complained that the penchant of Nigerians for imported goods and lack of clear policy against importation of goods that could be manufactured locally was destroying manufacturers.
Mr. Umeofia further disclosed:
“We have stock of tomato paste worth over N6bn now and not selling due to dumping and conspiracy against indigenous manufacturers.
“We have complained publicly and officially to all the relevant government agencies with loads of evidence, but regrettably nothing has changed till date.
“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.
“We will lay off 1,500 of our employees in the factory. Replicate our $150m investment in another country and from there import tomato paste to Nigeria.”
Erisco Foods has a production capacity of 450,000 metric tons of tomato paste annually for 22 brands with over 2,000 workers.
Erisco Foods threatens To Relocate Factory To Another Country
The company’s workers had in their hundreds held a peaceful protest against the management’s plan to shut down its production facility worth about $150m.
The workers were seen carrying placards and chanting songs around the factory premises in Oregun, Lagos.
Area Sales Manager, Erisco Foods, Mr. Ayoola Oladayo, called on the Federal Government to save their jobs by intervening in the company’s situation.
He appealed to the government saying:
“We appeal to the government to save our jobs and families.
“The unemployment rate is alarming and we do not want to be classified as jobless in this harsh economic situation of the country.
“About 2,000 of us will be affected in various factories if the company shuts down.
“We urge the government to assist Erisco Foods and other indigenous manufacturers to continue to contribute to the country’s GDP.”