Explosive Showdown: BUA’s Epic Battle for Survival Against Dangote

It is with a profound sense of responsibility and a heavy heart that we respond to the recent 7-page editorial by Aliko Dangote. This comes after months of sponsored campaigns against BUA, filled with allegations and attempts at blackmail via third-party platforms. To understand the full context, we must revisit a history not of rivalry, but of resilience; not of enmity, but of endurance.

In August 1991, BUA was a young enterprise engaged in commodities trading. At this time, Nigeria faced a sugar scarcity crisis, and BUA was among the few with available sugar stock. Aliko Dangote approached us to purchase sugar, unaware that this would be the first of many challenges we would face. He handed us a check from Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, which later bounced. This seemingly innocent transaction led to a court-ordered freeze of our assets, orchestrated by Dangote. For three harrowing months, our accounts were garnisheed, our warehouses closed, and our spirit tested. Yet, from the depths of deceit, BUA emerged even stronger (see attached court order).

A few years later, as we made progress in our businesses, we decided to establish a sugar refinery. We sought the consent of one Usman Dantata (now late), Aliko Dangote’s uncle, to lease NPA waterfront land at Tincan Island port, known as ‘Polo House.’ We obtained the land, signed agreements with NPA, and paid all due fees. However, Dangote intervened after our contractors and equipment were mobilized to the site, leading to the complete revocation of the land lease by then-President Obasanjo. As a result, even his uncle lost the land. BUA was given just 24 hours to vacate, marking the beginning of a grueling journey to secure another plot.

Our survival, particularly the Lagos sugar refinery, is a legacy from a loving father who, witnessing his son’s distress, extended a helping hand. This noble gesture involved transferring the land upon which our Lagos Sugar Refinery stands today. This land had once hosted one of his thriving businesses with a warehouse. Without seeking compensation, he turned over the property to our chairman, Abdul Samad Rabiu, providing a beacon of hope in a challenging time. This act of generosity helped BUA overcome another obstacle, making us the largest sugar refining concern in West Africa.

Our businesses continued to progress amidst various challenges, too numerous to enumerate here. In 2007, as part of President Yar’Adua’s initiative to expand Nigeria’s cement industry, BUA was among the six companies granted licenses. Our approach was unconventional but effective; we introduced the floating terminal ‘BUA CEMENT I,’ a cement factory on a large ship. This innovative move served as a temporary solution while we worked on securing land for a conventional cement plant.

However, this progress was met with resistance when we sought to dock the floating terminal in Lagos. President Yar’Adua’s intervention enabled us to contribute to the nation’s growth. Nonetheless, the challenges persisted, with an attempt to deport our vessel’s entire expatriate crew, a shocking event that required swift action and intervention.

Through all these tribulations, BUA’s resolve has only grown stronger. These events narrate not just the trials of a company but the determination of its people, united by a shared vision and a steadfast belief in justice and fairness.

Similar challenges arose during the construction of our Edo Cement Plant and our Port Harcourt sugar refinery, both of which demanded resilience and determination.

For over 32 years, we have been painted as antagonists in a narrative filled with malice. Yet, we haven’t merely survived; we have thrived, expanding our operations and contributing to Nigeria’s economy with integrity and transparency.

To Mr. Dangote and the Dangote Group, we say: Let us build, not belittle. Let us cultivate, not conquer. While we may share the marketplace, we need not share malice. The issues you face are self-inflicted; blame no one but yourself.

In closing, BUA remains committed to innovation, integrity, and inclusiveness. Our history reflects hard work, not privilege. We continue to serve Nigeria and its people with diligence and honor, undeterred by baseless criticism. Our past, present, and future are dedicated to the prosperity of Nigeria.