The Federal Government says it might open the borders for cement importation, if manufacturers of the product fail to bring down the cost.
The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa issued the threat on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting with Cement and Building Materials Manufacturers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the meeting was summoned to address the astronomical increase in the cost of cement nationwide.
The minister expressed concerns that in the past couple of months, the country had witnessed a recurring alarming increase in the prices of cement and other building materials.
“Clearly, this is a crisis for housing delivery. An increase in essential building materials means an increase in the prices of houses.
“We are not the only country facing this challenges, many countries are facing the same type of challenges that we’re facing, some even worse than that.
“But, as patriotic citizens, we have to rally round the country when there is crisis, to ensure that we do our best to save the situation,” he said.
The minister added: “Honestly speaking, we have to sit down and look at this critically and know how you should go back and think of it.
“The government stopped importation of cement in other to empower you to produce more and sell cheaper.
“Otherwise the government can open the borders for mass importation of cement, the price will crash, but you will have no business to do”.
Dangiwa said the reasons given by cement manufacturers for the price increase – high cost of gas and manufacturing equipment – were not enough for such astronomical pricing.
He expressed his displeasure at the position of Cement Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (CEMAN) that the association “does not interfer with the pricing of cement”.
He said the association should not just fold its arms when things were going wrong.
“One person cannot be selling at N3500 per bag and another selling at N7000 per bag and you cannot call them to order.
“The association is expected to monitor price control, otherwise the association has no need to exist,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Salako James , Executive Secretary, CEMAN, said the housing policy of the administration of President Bola Tinubu was laudable and every responsible Nigerian has to key into it.
He, however, identified some areas of concerns and appealed to the government to look into them in order to tackle the issue of cement pricing.
Salako identified the challenges of gas supply to heavy users like the cement industry and urged the government to create a window whereby gas will be bought with Naira instead of dollar.
He also complained about the distribution channel, stressing tha there was a great difference between the price from the manufacturers and the market price.
He, therefore called for government intervention to help stabilise the situation and bring sanity to the economy.
NAN reports that at the end of the meeting, the minister directed that a committee should be constituted to review the situation and come out with implementable resolutions that would benefit the common Nigerian.
NAN also reports that the three major cement producers, Dangote Plc, BUA Plc and Lafarge Plc were represented as well as other industry stakeholders.