.Protesting Workers Beg FG To Intervene –
More than 1,500 workers of the Erisco Foods Ltd may be out of jobs in the next 30 days as the Chief Executive Officer of the tomato paste manufacturing company in Nigeria, Eric Umeofia, plans to shut down the company and relocate to another country.
The leading tomato paste manufacturer has, therefore, given the Federal Government a 30-day ultimatum to implement the right policies to support indigenous manufacturers as done in other countries or get out of Nigeria.
At a news conference at the corporate Head Office of the company in Lagos, Umeofia accused the Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) of deliberately favouring foreigners at the detriment of indigenous manufacturers.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 workers staged a peaceful protest at the Alausa premises of the company, calling on the Federal Government to save their jobs as the CEO threatened to relocate.
Umeofia who disclosed that he was doing well in Dubai and Angola before deciding to move his investment worth over $150m to Nigeria said he had made up his mind to relocate if nothing was done to salvage the plight of local manufacturers in 30 days.
He said the CBN allocated foreign exchange to foreigners to import frozen fish and paste that could be produced locally while it refused to allocate any forex to Erisco for the past three months to bring in raw materials.
“We brought our investment down to Nigeria, worth over $150 million and invested it in our only country – Nigeria to process 450,000 metric tons of tomato paste and ketchup annually. Presently, we have over 2,000 workers but producing below 20% capacity utilization of our plant since inception.”
He said his workforce presently stands at 2050 while 50 would have resumed by next Monday but the recruitment process was suspended, warning that 1,500 would be sacked in 30 days if the government failed to address its plights.
He also claimed that an Indian firm was recently allocated $15.1m at N280.00 to one dollar while Erisco continues to run its factory with forex sourced from parallel market at over N450 to one dollar.