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Monday, May 25, 2009

Alao-Akala vows to resist closing down of BATN

Sola Adeyemo, Ibadan
Monday, 25 May 2009

GOVERNOR Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State says his administration will frustrate the moves being made in some quarters to close down the Ibadan-based... British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) company, considering the economic benefits of the multi-billion dollar firm.

While on a facility tour of the firm on Friday, the governor said closing it down would amount to a disservice to the nation.
Even though controversy continues to trail the bill being sponsored at the National Assembly to stop the production, sale and advertisement of tobacco products due to their negative effects on youths, Alao-Akala said the firm had helped to create wealth for both urban and rural dwellers in the state as part of its corporate social responsibility initiatives.
The Deputy Minority Leader at the Senate and sponsor of the National Tobacco Control Bill 2009, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, had alleged that while BATN had provided jobs for less than 1,000 Nigerians, it was responsible for the death and ill-health of thousands.
The bill, which has passed the second reading, makes it an offence to sell or market tobacco products to persons under the age of 18 and seeks to impose a fine not exceeding N50,000 or imprisonment of a term not exceeding six months, or both, on violators.
Defending the firm, Alao-Akala urged the tobacco firm not to relent in its laudable efforts, assuring its management of his administration’s readiness to fight for it at the National Assembly and at other higher levels.
He said: “I am now well informed about your operations and corporate social responsibilities, first to your host communities and to 34 other states in the country where you have touched lives and created jobs for the people.
“Your projects in rural communities have helped in no small way in reducing the rural-urban drift among the population, with the attendant increase in crimes in urban cities.”
Pledging to utilise all human and other resources at his administration’s disposal to resist any law that seeks to hinder the smooth operations of the company, the governor added: “We will let the Federal Government, legislators and the whole world know what you are doing for our people.
“The company has spread its operations to the entire country, paying billions of naira as taxes and excise duties.
“BATN has made major impacts in the areas of employment generation, opening up of rural communities for wealth creation, skill acquisition and payment of taxes to the government.
“Closing the factory down will be a great loss to Oyo State.”
Alao-Akala opposes moves to shut down tobacco firm::::Guardian Newspaper, Monday, May 25, 2009 -pg 5