20 March 2014, Abuja – The core investor in the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria, ALSCON, in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State, BFI Group, has decried reports that UC RUSAL, the Russian firm at the plant, has sacked over 100 workers.
There were fears last night that the Russians might have quietly left the country and handed over the decrepit plant to Nigerians to manage in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision barring them from running the plant.
Vanguard gathered that the most senior Russian directors and managers, who had held sway at the plant before the Supreme Court judgment, had been surreptitiously posted back to Russia, leaving the plant in the hands of Nigerians.
But the Executive Vice President of BFI Group, Frank Shearer, has said that he was disturbed by the level of decline in both physical and human resource assets of the company since the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, handed over the plant to UC RUSAL in 2006.
Shearer said “BFIG is outraged at the latest information that no fewer than 100 workers of ALSCON were to be sacked by UC RUSAL effective Monday, March 17, 2014. We are disturbed by the level of wastefulness and dissipation of human resources at the plant. When BFIG bid for ALSCON in 2004, we also considered the robust human resources, which we hoped to rely on in our effort to turn the fortunes of the plant around for the economic benefit of the people of Akwa Ibom and the Niger Delta region.”
He said the value of the physical assets as at 2006 when UC RUSAL took over the plant stood at over $1.1billion, pointing out that based on the auditor’s financial reports, the value of the assets had since deteriorated to only $89 million in 2011, adding that it was frightening that the staff strength had also declined from 784 employees in 2004 to less than 174, with latest sack threat.
– Soni Daniel, Vanguard