Politician Bello Will Go, Beer Remains

By Emmanuel Onwubiko

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.” – Abraham Lincoln:

“Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer.” – Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume:

For the better part of 7 years plus some few weeks, Abuja has been comparatively quiet and uneventful unlike when the insane politics of demolition of structures by a one time noisy minister of the Federal Capital Territory Alhaji Nasir El-Rufai reigned like an emperor during the President Olusegun Obasanjo’s era. Nasir El-Rufai was simply an accidental and opportunistic cabinet level appointee who rained terror, agony, pains and disasters on poor residents of the FCT.

Fastforward to now with a more media shy minister of the FCT Alhaji Mohammed Bello who remained out of the media glitz but has received unfavourable media reviews for his administration’s inability to fix the broken down transportation infrastructure and security architecture which have seen the Federal Capital Territory becoming one of the most dangerous political capitals or significant cities in the world probably next to the South African boisterous but crimes infested city of Johannesburg. Abuja has also become dirtier than even Ibadan which is the oldest and perhaps the ugliest urban township in Africa. There is however one negative index for which Abuja has become notorious- crimes.

Due to the increased crimes in the Nigerian political capital city and the clear failures by all the security institutions to come to terms with the heightened state of insecurity, many global leaders are already issuing travelling advisors asking their nationals not to embark on non essential travels to Abuja amongst other flashpoints of violence and terror attacks.

The town of Kuje, one of the 6 area councils in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja witnessed one of the World’s deadliest terror attacks in 2022 few days back when about 200 armed Islamists were simply allowed by the security forces to invade the most important custodial centre in the Country and free over 800 prisoners but President Muhammadu Buhari did not fire his cousin the FCT minister nor did he fire his fellow Muslim who is the minister that supervises the prisons.

In any event, Nigeria has witnessed about 15 or a dozen prison breaks since the last 5 years and as I write over 8,000 hardened terrorists, armed robbers, murderers, rapists are on the run. I read the other time that the Ghanaian Government has placed her armed forces on high alert because the terrorists fleeing Nigeria may have crossed over to Ghana thus demonstrating that Nigeria’s internal security institutions have collapsed.

These internal security institutions are all headed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s kinsmen.

So 7 years without any significant negative indices, the FCT minister seems to have woken up from slumber but this time around he woke up from the wrong side of the bed. He has began demolishing poor people’s homes and recently crossed the borderline of sanity by seeking to impose a religious edict of banning beers in Abuja commercial parks- a total economic anathema akin to commercial suicide.

But why this political insanity at the wee hours of this fading and fast disappearing government of misfortune? We will attempt a response but let us see the economic potentials of beers that this political appointee paid from the taxes paid by beer companies now wants to destroy which I think he can’t because his tenure will end soon but beer will remain with us, for us and by us.

The fundamental truth is that Beers are just like a symbol of democracy and peace because most consumers of beer products are some of the most law abiding citizens who contribute greatly to raise our GDP yearly.

The following body of information proves my point on the Gross Domestic Products of Nigeria that beers bring to the National economy because as we have recently read that the Board of the Nigerian beer makers would be recommending to shareholders at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) the declaration of a total dividend of ₦12.921billion at 50k per share, representing a 100% dividend payout ratio.

Also in the news is the disclosure that the Nigerian Breweries Plc records N437.196 billion revenue in 2021 financial year. Mind you, this company employs millions of Nigerians and therefore puts foods in the tables of over 45 million citizens. So why is Abuja minister attempting to pour sands in their GARRI? Now here below is the main gist on the multibillion-naira industry in Nigeria- Beer makers.

The Board of Directors of Nigerian Breweries Plc has released its audited financial statement for the year ended December 31, 2021, declaring a revenue of ₦437.196 billion. This represents a 29.7% increase compared to ₦337.006 billion recorded during the corresponding period in 2020.

A further breakdown of the audited results shows that the company’s profit for the period under review grew by 71.8%, rising from N7.525 billion in 2020 to N12.927 billion in 2021.

A statement signed by the Company Secretary/Legal Director, Uaboi Agbebaku, disclosed that the Board of Directors commended the management for placing the company on the path to recovery from the debilitating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges faced during the year.

The Board would be recommending to shareholders at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) the declaration of a total dividend of ₦12.921billion at 50k per share, representing a 100% dividend payout ratio.
Recall that the company had earlier in October 2021, paid an interim dividend of ₦3.230 billion which translated to 40k per share. The final proposed dividend of ₦9.69 billion at ₦1.20k per share will be payable to shareholders upon approval on April 25, 2022.

In another related news story that gladdens the hearts, we read that Nigerian Breweries is to pay shareholders N13 billion total dividend after record sales.

Specifically, the statement further noted that only qualifying shareholders whose names appear on the company’s Register of Members at the close of business on March 9, 2022 will be paid the final dividend. According to the statement, the Board would also recommend shareholders for their approval at the forthcoming AGM, a right of election for Qualifying Shareholders to receive new ordinary shares in the company instead of the final dividend in cash.

Agbebaku revealed that the company remains committed to delivering improved performance in the years ahead. It would also continue to deploy cost-efficient measures to keep its balance sheet strong and healthy while ensuring that the safety and welfare of its employees, customers, and partners remain well protected.

So the question which President Muhammadu Buhari should ask his cousin the FCT minister is- why go after manufacturers of beers that are big time players in the employment markets?

Well as expected with a very poisonous and unpopular decision made to satisfy religious whims and caprices of just one section of Nigeria, the owners and operators of recreational facilities in Abuja have protested the implementation of a policy, which stipulates closing time for gardens and parks within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

They also protest the implementation of the ban sale of alcohol in gardens and parks.
The operators, who have been lamenting loss of revenues as a result of the implementation of the policy, have called for a reversal of the contentious policy.
In a letter to the FCT minister, Muhammed Bello, the operators reminded him that Nigeria is a democratic society, where such draconian rules should not exist.
They charged the minister to uphold the rule of law and stop the enforcement of the closure of parks and gardens by 7:00p.m. in the FCT.
In a letter written through their lawyer, Ifeanyi Remy Agu, titled” “Re Suit No: CV/408/2008: Barrister (Mrs.) Amanda Pam (Proprietor Suez Garden) & 60 Others , the group described the enforcement of the closing hour by FCTA, as sub-Judice.
The letter stated: “As solicitors to the plaintiffs in the above-stated suit, pending before the FCT High Court, we draw your attention to the threat to enforce 6:00pm closing hour by the proprietor of gardens in the FCT by your Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring and Enforcement, Comrade Ikharo Attah, which action is sub-judice of the pending case before the court.
“Suffice it to say that we live in a democratic society where rule of law prevails against personal desires and brigandage of public servants.
“The terms of settlements in the above matter have been ordered to be filed by the Honorable court after the parties agreed in terms and principles.
“Our clients received with the greatest shock the threatened enforcement by the SSA against the claimants. Sir, as a Minister in the temple of justice, we appeal to you to use your good office to call the SSA to order, more especially as the case is before a court of law and parties have agreed in principle.”
The Guardian learnt that enforcement of the policy began at Eden Garden in Jabi at about 8:14 p.m. last week and moved to the Par Excellence Waterfalls and Park, Unity Global Garden, and Grillzhut Garden, all in Wuse Zone 5.
Others are the Deli Restaurant and Garden in Wuse Zone 4 and City Park in Wuse II.
Most of the locations were filled with nightlife enthusiasts and customers seated around their pleasure tables in various clusters, when the enforcement task force arrived.
Madam Winners Wokoma, who runs a sit-out restaurant at the Eden Garden, lamented that her losses as a result of the police are grievous and can lead to someone’s death.
Also, a manager at the Elite City Park, Wuse II, Micheal Akogwu, said he opted to close exactly at 7:00 p.m .in compliance with the directives to avoid trouble, while adding that the revenue losses in the park were colossal, considering different segments that offer unique services with their attractive selling points.

MEANWHILE, the Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement to the FCT Minister, Comrade Ikharo Attah, who led the Task Force, said enforcing the policy was not meant to kill people’s businesses, but to instil a sense of sanity to the parks and recreation sector.
While, regretting that the good intentions of the administration in allocating parks and gardens have been abused, he called for understanding and compliance.
He assured that the administration will continue to dialogue with owners and operators of parks, to fine-tune the processes, to ensure seamless implementation.
“We came out this night for advocacy enforcement, we have gone round some gardens to ensure compliance to FCTA Park policy 2005 that states that parks should close by 7:00p.m., that is why we appear to be very soft.
“Everyone is concerned about park operators, we really want them to make money, but we still need orderliness. Parks are not lounges, nightclubs and hotels.
They have specific guidelines on how they should operate. I think with time, everyone will begin to adjust,” he added.

I say it loudly that my friend Ikharo Attah has hit the wrong note and should be called to order so he stops his unwinnable war against beers and we the beer drinkers.

And I just like millions of rational thinkers globally has continued to ask- why is the minister of FCT, the politician called Bello seeking to wind the hand of the clock backwards? What does he stand to gain by destroying the beer industry in Abuja?

I will recommend a piece titled: “How Beer Industry Powers Global Economy”, published in the Thisday newspaper recently to understand the futility of his blind attack on beer drinkers who are simply merrymakers and peace lovers.

A report by Dike Onwuamaeze sought to untangle few points about the beer industry globally and began by posing the question thus: How much does the beer industry contribute to Nigeria’s economy and indeed the world economy?

The reporter then responded that the first-ever worldwide report to assess the beer industry’s global economic impact, which was released by the World Breweries Alliance (WBA) on March 3, 2021, found that one in every 110 jobs in the world is linked through direct, indirect, or induced impact channels to the beer sector. It also revealed that the beer industry contributed $555 billion to global GDP, generated 23.1 million jobs and contributed $262 billion governments’ revenue globally in 2019.

This report covered 70 countries, including Nigeria, which controlled 89 per cent of global beer market. The report was titled “Beer’s Global Economic Footprint.” It was written by Oxford Economics for the Worldwide Breweries Alliance (WBA).

The report also showed that the beer industry contributed $2.294 billion to Nigeria’s GDP, generated 309,200 jobs and contributed $526.2 million into Nigeria’s government revenue in 2019. It also ranked Nigeria 30th out of 70 top beer markets in the world that were covered by the report.

A breakdown of the economic impact of beer market on Nigerian economy, according to the report, further revealed the beer industry made $897.5 million indirect impact on the Nigeria’s GDP while its induced and direct impacts were estimated at $466.5 million and $875.4 million respectively.

Furthermore, the report showed that of the 209,200 jobs generated by the beer industry in Nigerian economy in 2019 is made up of 148,423 indirect jobs, 87,508 induced jobs and 73,233 direct jobs.

On impact of beer industry the reporter stated the obvious thus: The Oxford Economics study of the impact of beer industry on Nigeria economy also gave a breakdown of the $526. 2 million that the sub-sector contributed to government’s tax revenue. It stated that its direct impact on government revenue in 2019 was $442,180,705 while $60,890,639 and $23,154,849 were as a result of indirect and induced impact on tax revenues respectively.

It also stated that the $2.294 billion the beer industry contributed to Nigeria’s GDP in 2019 came from activities in the brewer and upstream sector and the downstream sector. The economic footprint of the upstream value chain of the beer industry was put at $1.6 billion, which is made up of $598.7 million, $695.9 million and $347.5 million from direct, indirect and induced activities respectively.

The report stated that the economic footprint of the beer sub-sector in the downstream value chain in Nigeria comprised industry’s impact on “on-trade” such as bars, pubs, clubs, sports arenas and restaurants as well as the “off-trade” activities like retailers

The downstream segment contributed $284.7 million, $201.6 million and $119 million via direct, indirect and induced activities respectively.

The report said that domestic beer sector’s GDP multiplier captured the level of activity supported in the rest of the economy for every $1 contributed by the beer sector to GDP. It should be noted this only refers to domestic activity, and excludes international trade and supply chain effects.

The Oxford Economics said: “The production and consumption of beer reaches all parts of the global economy.

“For the first time this website and report quantify the total economic impact of the global brewing sector between 2015 and 2019.

‘The study relies on 2019 data rather than 2020 because of the distortions caused by COVID-19. The effects of the pandemic mean that 2019 is more representative of a normal year for the beer sector.

“The global data cover 70 countries representing 89 per cent of global beer volumes. The data were supplied by four major brewers: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Carlsberg Group, Heineken, and Molson Coors Beverage Company.”

All monetary values are expressed in United States of America Dollars in constant 2019 prices and exchange rates.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Oxford Economics, Mr. Adrian Cooper, who presented the report during a webinar, said that the beer sector is primed to contribute to post COVID global economic recovery as its economic significance is larger in faster growing economies and is triggering substantial economic activities in the agriculture, distributive trade and hospitality industry.

On the inevitable Beer value chain, this is his take which I share absolutely.

The Oxford Economics asserted that the beer sector is important to economies all over the world and impacted all aspects of the beer value chain, from brewers, distributors, retailers, and the hospitality industry, to the suppliers each relied on.

It said that the study relied “on 2019 data (instead of 2020). We demonstrate this because of the distortions caused by COVID-19. The effects of the pandemic mean that 2019 is more representative of a normal year for the beer sector.”

The report said that “while making and delivering the beer people love, the activities of the beer sector sustain considerable amounts of GDP, jobs, and government revenue in economies around the globe. Brewers and beer’s downstream value chain make important direct contributions, deliver substantial indirect impacts by buying goods and services from their suppliers, and induce further economic activity by paying wages and supporting wages along the supply chain.

“Based on our detailed analysis across 70 countries, we estimate that, in 2019, the beer sector’s total economic impact amounted to $555 billion gross value added (GVA) contribution to global GDP, supporting 23 million jobs. In total, the beer sector supported 0.8 per cent of GDP across the 70 countries, or $1 for every $131 of GDP generated in these economies in 2019. To put that in context, beer sector’s GVA contribution to global GDP is comparable with Belgium’s economy in 2019 ($533 billion) and the number of jobs supported is equal to the entire Italian labour force of 23 million people.”

The report stated that it is important to note that the economic significance of the beer sector is larger for lower income countries.

It said: “While in high-income countries the beer sector contributed an average 0.9 per cent to national GDP, in low-income economies the equivalent figure is 1.6 per cent. Similarly, the beer sector supports a proportionally larger number of jobs in lower income than in high-income countries (1.4 per cent vs. 1.1 per cent of national employment). The beer sector also supports significant tax payments for global governments.

“Combined, we estimate that brewers and their downstream value chain made and supported $262 billion in tax payments to governments around the world. Of the total tax contribution, $109 billion are made up of VAT and excise duties paid on beer sales.”

I think beer drinkers will stage an audacious mass beer drinkers’ protest soon to the office of the FCT minister so we invite him to come along and join the happiness club of beer drinkers and stop the channel noise. Does the minister know that 90 percent of his security details are beer drinkers?

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.

Leave a Reply