By Eric Teniola
As at 1979, when the Army handed over power, there were 40 companies operating in the country. These companies, with their locations and the percentage of federal government shareholding in them, were as follows: Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company Limited (35 percent); Nkalagu Cement Company Limited, Anambra (10 percent); Steyr Nigeria Ltd., Bauchi (35 percent); Ashaka Cement Company Ltd., Bauchi (30 percent); New Nigeria Salt Company Ltd., Bendel (100 percent); Delta Steel Company Ltd., Bendel (100 percent); Nigerian National Shrimp Co. Ltd., Bendel (51 percent); Nigerian National Fish Co. Ltd., Bendel (66 percent); Benue Cement Company Ltd., Benue (39 percent); Calabar Cement Company Ltd., Cross River (40 percent); Nigerian Newsprint Manufacturing. Co. Ltd., Cross River (80 percent); Serwood Industries Ltd., Cross River (20 percent); and Opobo Boat-Yards Ltd., Cross River (43.75 percent).
Also, Savana Sugar Company Ltd., Gongola (72 percent); Aba Textile Mills Ltd., Imo (70 percent); Electricity Meters Company Ltd., Kaduna (80 percent); Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Ltd., Kaduna (35 percent); Batagarawa Steel Rolling Mill, Kaduna (100 percent); Super-phosphate Fertiliser Co., Kaduna (100 percent); North Brewery Ltd., Kano (50 percent); National Trucks Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Kano (35 percent); Nigeria Sugar Company Ltd., Kwara (19.7 percent); Ajaokuta Steel Co. Ltd., Kwara (100 percent); Nigeria Paper Mills Ltd., Kwara (100 percent); Lafiagi Sugar Company Ltd., Kwara (90 percent); and Nigeria Yeast & Alcohol Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Kwara (51 percent).
Equally, there was Flour Mills of Nigeria, Lagos (12 percent); West Africa Distillers Ltd., Lagos (100 percent); Volkswagen of Nigeria Ltd., Lagos (35 percent); Nichemtex Industries Ltd., Lagos (9.23 percent); Sunti Sugar Company Ltd., (90 percent); West African Portland Cement Co. Ltd., Ogun (20 percent); National Salt Company Ltd., Ogun (100 percent); Nigeria National Paper Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Ogun (70 percent); Nigeria Transformers Ltd., Ogun (65 percent); Nigeria-Romania Wood Industries Ltd., Ondo (25 percent); Leyland Nigeria Ltd., (35 percent); Oshogbo Steel Rolling Mill, Osun (100 percent); Jos Steel Rolling Mill, Plateau (100 percent); and Sokot Cement Company Ltd., Sokoto (31 percent).
If I may ask, how many of these companies or industries are still operating today? The truth is that most of them have ceased to operate. Why? MISMANAGEMENT. Am aware that President Muhammadu Buhari is preparing to pour money into re-activating the Ajaokuta Steel Company. But what about others? But the story is not the same with some foreign companies operating in Nigeria established years ago. Let’s take a look. May & Baker was the first pharmaceutical company to be founded in Nigeria, having been incorporated in 1944. Many of the company’s leading brands are house-hold names in ethical pharmaceutical and family health-care products. The company maintains technical and management services agreement with Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world and a major stakeholder. May & Baker Nigeria’s leading brands include M&B Tixylix (a paediatric cough medicine), Oruvail (a anti-rheumatic), Peflacine (a antibiotic), Flagyl (a anti-infective) and vaccines. Over 75 percent of its sales are derived from human pharmaceuticals, manufactured at its Ikeja, Lagos factory. Its suppliers cut across indigenous and foreign companies. The major off-shore suppliers are Rhone-Poulenc Rorer SA of France and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Exports Limited of United Kingdom. At the local level, the major suppliers include Smurfit Cases Nigeria Limited, Avon Crown Caps Limited and Guinea Glass Limited.
Paterson Zochonis & Company Limited of Manchester, England commenced business in Nigeria in 1899 as a traditional West African merchant. The major Landmark in PZ’s development in Nigeria came after the Second World War, when the company acquired P.B. Nicolas & Company Limited, a small soap factory in Aba in 1948. The name was changed to Alagbon Industries Limited in 1953 and then to Associated Industries Limited in 1960. The name was finally changed to Paterson Zochonis Industries Plc in 1976. Today, since its incorporation in Nigeria, the PZ group of companies now spans a wide range of manufacturing and commercial activities scattered across Nigeria.
Nigerian Bottling Plc’s path to greatness began in a modest way in November 22, 1951, when it was incorporated as a private limited company, to establish and operate factories for the bottling and distribution of soft drinks in Nigeria. It rolled out its first cases of Coca-Cola in 1953 from one plant bottling operation in Oyingbo, Lagos State. Since then, NBC and Coca Cola have become synonymous in Nigeria and this dynamic company is the largest bottler of soft hard drinks in Nigeria, and a bottling giant in Africa.
The Nigerian Breweries Plc, the pioneer and largest brewing company in Nigeria, was incorporated in 1946 and recorded a landmark when the first bottle of Star Lager Beer rolled off the bottling lines in its Lagos brewery in June 1949. This was followed by the building of the Aba Brewery, which was commissioned in 1957, the Kaduna Brewery in 1963, and Ibadan Brewery in 1982. In September 1993, the company acquired its fifth Brewery in Enugu. Thus, from its humble beginning in 1946, the company now has five breweries from which its high quality products are bottled and then distributed to all parts of this country. Nigeria Breweries Plc has a portfolio of six high quality brands: Star Lager Beer; Gulder Lager Beer; Maltina, with its winsome strawberry, exotic fruits and classic varieties; Legends Extra Stout, Amstel Malta; and Schweppes range of carbonated soft drinks (Schweppes Bitter Lemon, Schweppes Tonic and Schweppes Soda Water). Together, the brands have facilitated its strong leadership position in the total brewed products market in Nigeria.
Julius Berger Nigeria Plc began operation in Nigeria in 1965 with the construction of Eko Bridge. It was incorporated on February 18, 1970 as a civil engineering firm. The competence with which the company executes contracts won the confidence of Nigerians. A few prominent works executed by the company include: Third Apapa Wharf Extension and Tin Can Island Ports in Lagos, Sapele and Warri Ports in Delta State. Others are the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Apapa Oshodi Expressway, Lagos Inner Ring Road, Lagos Eti-Osa Road Phase I and II, Amuwo Odofin Road, Lekki Peninsula Road Scheme I, Igbokuta-Imota Road. It also built the Ajaokuta Road Bridge in Kogi State, Jebba Road Bridge in Kwara State, Ethiope and Jamieson Bridge at Sapele, New Carter Bridge with its West Ramp, Third Mainland Bridge (Oworonsoki End) and Opebi Bridge in Lagos.
Lever Brothers Nigeria Plc, the longest surviving manufacturing outfit in Nigeria has seen the best, as well as worst in Nigeria’s economy over the last 74 years. The company came into existence in 1923 through the efforts of a pioneering entrepreneur, Lord Leverhulme, who rather than taking palm oil from Nigeria to make soap in England and shipping it back to sell to us, decided to manufacture the soap right here where the palm oil is produced. It should therefore not be surprising that Lever Brothers has since been in the forefront of local raw material development and backward integration. Lever Brothers Nigeria PLC was re-classified as a conglomerate a few years ago. The company started as a soap company and expanded to non-soapy detergents. The company later went into foods, producing table margarines and bakery fats and eventually went into personal products, producing dental care products, creams, jeellies and lotions. Nestle Foods Nigeria Plc is a leading food manufacturing and marketing company renowned for its top quality products. The company began simple trading operations in Nigeria in 1961. The company’s manufacturing facilities, located at Agbara Industrial Estate in Ogun State, produce Nido milk, Cerelac, Nutrend and Cerelac Chocolate – baby weaning foods; Golden Morn, an instant breakfast cereal; Milo, Nescao, Chocolim – beverage drinks; Choco Milo – chocolate sweet; Maggi cubes, Maggi Super Onion Spices, Maggi Chicken, Maggi Crayfish, Maggi Mutton Tomatoe and Maggi Pepper Soup – kitchen seasonings; and Maggi 2-Minute Noodles.
These are companies operating in Nigeria that have expatriates connections. Some faced certain problems a few years ago, including Guiness Nigeria Limited, but they have since bounced back.
Eric Teniola, a former director in the Presidency, Writes from Lagos.