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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Group faults BATN over investment in Nigeria

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has faulted claims by British America Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) that its investment in Nigeria has been beneficial to the country.
ERA/FoEN in a statement said it was necessary to put the facts right following remarks by the Managing Director of BATN, Beverley Spencer-Obatoyinbo, at an investment forum last Thursday.
She had said at the forum that the company’s investment initiative in had turned out to be "a win-win situation" for the company and Nigeria.
BATN had in 2001 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Government to establish a $150 million tobacco factory in Ibadan.
Since then, the company has been targeting young Nigerians in a bid to recruit them as replacement smokers.
It has successfully done this through musical concerts, fashion shows and other promotional events like the Secret Smoking Parties that ERA/FoEN alerted the nation about when the events held in Ajegunle and Victoria Island, both in Lagos.
In a statement in Lagos, ERA/FoEN described the company’s claims as "sheer dishonesty", insisting that BATN continues to rake in profits as Nigerians harvest death and the health burden associated with the failure of the Federal Government to regulate the activities of tobacco companies operating in the country.
ERA/FoEN’s Director, Corporate Accountability and Administration, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said, "It is extremely fallacious and vexing for BATN to describe its stranglehold on the huge and largely uninformed Nigerian consumer market as a win-win situation.
‘’That remark is unfortunate and can be likened to a victory song by a company that has an avowed mission of conscripting new smokers through the glamorization of a deadly product."
Oluwafemi noted that: "For instance, in Lagos, one among the Nigerian states targeted by BATN for its image blitz, a 2006 survey in 11 government-owned hospitals revealed that at least two persons die daily from a tobacco-related disease.
‘’The survey also revealed that the Lagos government expends at least N216, 000 treating each of the 9,527 tobacco related cases documented while individual patient spends an additional N70,000."
Oluwafemi reiterated ERA/FoEN demand for the signing of the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) by President Goodluck Jonathan.