By Babatola Adeyemi
IT was said to be the fulfilment of a pledge made to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 1999, and like a deity bound by his words, the Coca-Cola company, through its sole franchisee in Nigeria - Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), has invested over N10 billion naira in the country from 2000 to 2007.
Part of the investment in the country is the Abuja plant of NBC which was commisioned by President Umaru Yar'Adua, last week. Welcoming the guests to the remarkable event, the Managing Director, Mr Roland Ebelt, stated: "The commissioning of this facility is the culmination of a commitment made about eight years ago. In 1999, the Coca-Cola System in Nigeria made a commitment to the then newly elected President, Olusegun Obasanjo, to invest over $50 million in the economy.
"Over the past years, we have fulfilled more than this commitment in several ways, beginning with the commissioning of our ultra modern plant in Benin, we have also invested in modernising and upgrading all of our production lines as well as our electricity and water supply across the country. Our total investments over years- 2000 to 2007 have amounted to more than N10 billion."
He added: "We are proud today that we have made good our commitment, culminating with the commissioning of the Abuja plant, a state-of-the art facility that can compete with any modern bottling facility in the world."
The NBC boss stated further: "The commissioning of this plant, our 13th in the country, further re-affirms our commitment to the Nigerian economy and to all our stakeholders- the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the more than 50,000 stakeholders who are vital to the sustainability of our business, our customers who have made our products the most popular in the country, our customers whose support and enthusiasm for the business is much appreciated, our suppliers who provide the needed service on time, associates of other companies, and last but not the least, the Coca-Cola Company and the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, whose partnership and substantial technical support are so vital to our continuity as well as our staff who strive each day to ensure the success of the business."
Ebelt specially thanked the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar, for his support in making the project a reality as the then Commerce and Industry minister.
Similarly, the chief Operating Officer of the Coca-Cola Company, Mr Muhtar Kent lauded the past and present administrations for creating an enabling environment that made the dream a reality, assuring of the company's readiness to establish more plants in the country.
Umar, who lauded Coca-Cola's commitment to the country's ecomomic development assured the company of easy access to land for their future imvestments in the country. Yar'Adua, who was represented by Industry Minister, Charles Ugwu, promised that government will not relent in its efforts at encouragimg industrial growth.
The latest plant brings to 13 NBC's plants in the country. NBC was incorporated in November, 1951, as a subsidiary of the AG Leventis Group, with the sole franchise to bottle and sell Coca-Cola products in Nigeria
sourced from the Nigerian Guardian Saturday 15th September 2007