LIKE CRUDE OIL, LIKE PALM OIL: Story of Nigeria

LIKE CRUDE OIL, LIKE PALM OIL: Story of Nigeria

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 5:10 pm


 

By Steve Osuji

WHY THE BLACKMAN IS PRIMORDIAL AND UNSUSTAINABLE: It must be something in our gene that the black man remains primordial and even pre-medieval. But the real tragedy is that he doesn’t understand his situation. But let’s try to illustrate with this simple story of PRESCO and OKOMU.
These two are perhaps the foremost agro-processing firms in Nigeria. They are headquartered in the rainforests of Edo State.
Presco Plc and Okomu Oil Plc are not into the billion-dollar petroleum extraction business. No. They are farmers. They farm palm fruits and rubber and they process them and take advantage of the rich, long VALUE CHAIN of these crops.
These two companies are remarkable examples that agriculture is big business if practised sustainably, they are proof that agric is far bigger than crude oil.

PALM OIL SPILL ON THE STOCK EXCHANGE: These firms are quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). They have been privatised and listed for nearly 30 years.
Recently, they both held virtual AGMs where they declared dividends to their shareholders. While Okomu set aside N4b, Presco had N2b for shareholders. This palm oil business has been returning money to investors year on year without fail. I am so very proud of them regardless of their flaws; they are veritable examples of our limitless possibilities.
Presco has a a trading revenue of N20b for 2019 with a profit after tax of about N4b, while Okhomu had about N19b and N5b respectively for the same year.

WEALTH IN THE FOREST: Okhomu has about 24,600 hectares of palm fruit and rubber plantations, it has about 5000 direct and indirect workers. It is the largest producer of crude palm oil and 2nd largest producer of rubber in Nigeria.
Presco on the other hand are speciality producers of fats and oils, derivatives of palm oil. Employing about 8000 direct and indirect labour and runs in its plantations, palm oil mill, palm kernel crushing and vegetable oil refining plants, among others.
THE TWIST IN THE STORY: From the foregoing, it is apparent that there is so much wealth to be extracted from our forest economy and these two firms have been exploiting same sustainably for about three decades, making wealth, creating jobs, paying taxes and nurturing the forest environment in a manner that it’s not abandoned for terrorists and militants to find home in!
But here’s the news: this wonderful feat has been achieved by foreigners, white people to be specific.
Majority shares in Presco has been held by SIAT SA, a Belgian integrated agro-industrial group. It’s current honcho who represents the interest of the major investors is a certain Pierre Vandebeeck.
Okomu is held by SOCFIN, probably a French agric multinational. Its current MD, G D Hefner, is South African while the Finance Director is French.
AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY: The lesson to be derived from this long tale is that Nigerians or the blackman if you will, cannot seem to manage any SUSTAINABLE PROCESS.
I want to be contradicted but I wager that if you hand these two firms to Nigerians, they would be moribund in five years max! There’s a littering of similar abandoned firms across the country.
There are other palm plantations in Imo, Abia and Rivers States. Some of them are bigger than Presco and Okomu. They are all comatose because Nigerians did away with the foreign managers.
We can replicate Presco and Okomu in 16 other states of south-south, southeast and southwest. But the palm trees in these places have become wasting assets.
We can do the same with cocoa, rubber, cotton, cashew and a dozen other agro products. But we can’t because we are black or rather, dark.
It is the same way we cannot manage our crude oil and associated products. We cannot run factories and major industries. For over 60 years, we still rely on the people of the West to extract out natural resources.
It’s the reason we cannot run our government businesses and bureaucracies… we remain primordial and primitive. We are not sustainable and we are in blissful ignorance of this fact. We have continued to atrophy!
I wager that we are liable to become extinct someday unless come to a jolting self-awakening!

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One Comment

  • Joseph says:

    There are surely Nigerians managing businesses well in different industries at home and in many countries of the world including the USA, UK, etc. The fact that Nigerians were educated to prefer white and blue colar jobs to agriculture do not make us and the black race stupid, foolish and that we may go into extinct soon. How wrong!

    I agree with you we should farm more, especially the cash crops. My father was a palm tree farmer and he educated us with the proceeds from the farm. Many people also farm in palm trees. It doesn’t need to be massive farm as the ones you mentioned. But I agree with you that the farming sector is under exploited, but definitely not because of our race, that will be taking your frustrations too far. Nothing in the gene makes any man superior to the other.

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