Some recalcitrant owners of Businesses along Animashaun VeePee Road, Kilometer 2, off Idiroko Road, Tomori Estate, Sango Ota, Ogun State, have been mandated by the Ogun State House of Assembly to pay up their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) fees within some stipulated time otherwise face possible prosecution.
This is coming at the heels of a petition sent to the House of Assembly by Ajumoni Ota ACDC, the Community which hosts these Companies.
The need to construct a functional drainage along that road to control heavy erosion that has been damaging any tar on that road over the years necessitated the pressure on Companies having properties and buildings on that road to contribute financially and materially towards ensuring that the road is motorable to all users including all Industries located on that road.
Prior to the hearing of the petition on Tuesday 9th May, 2023 by the House Committee on Industry, Trade & Investments, efforts had been made to make some defaulting Companies along this Road and Axis to pay up their CSR fees but unfortunately, while some complied, some defaulted, even with brazen impunity. And this, coming after being piquetted by Ajumoni Ota ACDC, following many appeals to these Companies even from Ado Odo Ota Local Government Council.
The chairman of the panel deliberating on the petition, Hon. Kemi Oduwole Olaitan opened the floor by making it clear to everyone present at the hearing that his Committee has the power of Attorney to summon, invite, arrest and subsequently prosecute anyone who runs foul of its laws by resisting arrest or shunning the invitation of the Committee as that will tantamount to a blatant refusal of that individual or corporate body to cooperate with government on its developmental efforts.
The arrowhead of the petition and chairman of Ajumoni Ota ACDC, Engineer Chief Kolapo Aliu told the panel that constructing a functional drainage along Animashaun VeePee Road was not negotiable otherwise, every effort at tarring that road will continue to end in frustration due to heavy erosion occasioned by torrential rainfalls, particularly during the rainy seasons.
Engr Aliu recalled how Ajumoni Ota ACDC wrote letters to the Companies along that road and even had to piquette them to show how important payment of CSR ought to be taken. But according to the Ajumoni chairman, while some of the Companies complied, some flagrantly defaulted without giving any cogent reason for doing so. Chief Aliu specifically mentioned Obi & Co, a transporter along that axis and Sren Chemicals as two of the same kind in trying to evade payment of any acrueing CSR.
In his answer to the panel, Engr Aliu explained that a Committee was set up which comprised representatives of the Companies, officials of Ajumoni Ota and Ijaliye ACDCs, Ado Odo Ota Local Government Council and representatives of the Community. This Committee, Chief Aliu explained further, deliberated on, and unanimously took a generally agreed decision on how much each Company was liable to pay as CSR, according to their Corporate financial capacities.
In their individual responses, representatives of each Company spoke one after the other.
Cyril Uchechukwu Mpama, General Manager, Lifecare Ventures Limited told the panel that his company had been a regular contributor to CSR in the past. He recalled that Lifecare singlehandedly gave a 500kva Transformer and Feeder to Allishiba CDA in 2020 and just last year, Lifecare also gave N1.2m to Senator Akinyelure’s son, Kunle, to support the construction of Lynson Chemicals Feeder Road serving several Communities in the area. But unfortunately the Company is experiencing some recession presently, hence the default in meeting up. He however promised the panel that his Company would pay up every money owed to CSR.
Another defaulting Company, Toshiba, represented by Engr Felix disclosed that out of the N2.3m allotted to his Company, N1.3m has been paid, leaving a balance of N1m. Obi & Sons, represented by its CEO pleaded to pay N500,000 out of the N700,000 allotted to them and write off the balance of N200,000 but his request was turned down by the Committee set up to handle alotments of monies payable by each defaulting Company. Hence Obi & Sons is yet to pay anything. Likewise Sren Chemicals.
Drugfield Pharmaceuticals, also doing business along that axis was rebuked by the chairman of the panel for not showing up at the hearing only to send letters from their lawyers. The Panel however rejected both letters. So far, Drugfield had paid only N1m.
Throwing the floor open for contributions, chairman of the panel, Hon. Kemi Oduwole Olaitan called on Hon. Adeyemi Ademuyiwa, a member of the panel, to speak. In his speech, Hon. Ademuyiwa seized the opportunity to appeal to all sides (plaintiffs and accused) in the misunderstanding to strive to work together amicably in the spirit of good neighbouliness so that peace, better understanding, progress and prosperity can reign in their communities. This was reiterated by the vice chairman of the panel, Hon. Adams.
Chairman of the panel, Hon. Kemi Oduwole commended companies that have fully paid up and enjoined defaulting ones to follow suit. He noted that there are some companies that offer to pay CSR voluntarily without even being prompted or forced to do so.
Chairman Kemi commended Lifecare Ventures for their past notable contributions to CSR and encouraged them not to relent.
On Sren Chemicals and Obi & Sons, the chairman was surprised to learn that they haven’t paid anything so far. Notwithstanding, he advised them to pay up and avoid being blacklisted as bad citizens in their communities . He also encouraged Toshiba to pay up its balance of N1.3m. He further commended Lifecare Ventures for supporting Senator Akinyelure’s Community Development drives in the area recently with N1.2m
In his own contribution, Hon. Sheriff Abiodun, representing Ota Federal Constituency 1 at the House, who disclosed that he used to live in that area, also complimented chairman Kemi’s admonitions to defaulting Companies to pay up and cooperate with government agencies for developmental purposes especially on Animashaun VeePee Road and Environs.
Hon. Sheriff recalled that he was a very good community man and always contributed regularly to CSR when he was living in that Community. He noted that Ogun State is a CSR-paying State as she has the greatest number of Industries in the country, all concentrated in Ota. He also noted that the State has the greatest number of public and private Schools, Hospitals and Polytechnics in Nigeria.
Buttressing all the points earlier made at the petition hearing, Mr Idris Adejo, standing for his company, Olympic Inks, admonished his colleagues to comply and cooperate with government by paying their CSR fees promptly. He also charged both the Government and the Companies involved to work together harmoniously in one accord and mutual understanding to foster peace, progress and prosperity in their communities and environs.
In conclusion the chairman of the panel, Hon. Kemi Oduwole asked the Industrialists How the matter should be resolved. And Mr Adejo, speaking on behalf of the Industrialists asked for time to speak with his colleagues.
So, the House unanimously agreed to give the Industrialists ONE WEEK of grace from the date of the hearing of the petition, which deadline falls on 18th May, 2023.
The Table of Payments of the CSR by the Companies, showing outstanding amounts payable by each Company are as follows:
- Drugfield Pharmaceuticals – N3.8m
- Toshiba – N1m
- Lifecare Ventures – N1.8m
- Sten Chemicals – N2.3m
- Alltime Packaging – N277,938
- SVR – N277,938
- Obi & Sons – N727,930
- Daily Sun Pharmaceutical Co – N377,938
- Leccan – N677,981