Leading Nigerian conglomerate Dangote Group has refuted media reports that the release of 36 expatriate and 12 Nigerian workers from the company recently was because of an economic recession in the country,

Tony Chiejina, Fangote Group’s Head of Corporate Affairs, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) here Monday that the expatriates were let go because of job overlap while the 12 Nigerians who were affected were in the procurement department whose services were now redundant.

Chiejina said that despite the recession, the Dangote Group had been expanding its operations into oil and gas, rice and diary projects, fertilizer and petrochemicals, among others. This expansion would create more employments in the company, he added.

He said the current recession had been a challenge to the company as it strives to contribute more to the Nigerian economy.

Reports earlier today quoted a letter signed by the Chairman of the group, Aliko Dangote, explaining the reasons for the job cuts. The letter which spoke about the challenges in the Nigerian economy and especially the scarcity of foreign exchange said, in part:

“This year has been a very challenging year for us as a business. The unavailability of foreign exchange, coupled with an unprecedented hike in the exchange rate, has resulted in increased costs across the organization.

“This called for a proper review and adjustment of our costs across board to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the deployment of our factors of production in a bid to eliminate redundancies that we know exist, which resulted in some tough decisions, which means losing staff, including some of our colleagues.

“On Friday, Oct 14, 2016, we began the process of staff cutbacks as it is imperative to review our human capital deployment for the required cutbacks that would ensure efficiency and eliminate redundancies in the allocation of human resources.

“This first phase of this exercise involved the cutback of 36 expatriate staff across the Dangote Cement Plc and Dangote Industries Limited, and 12 local staff members in Dangote Industries Limited.”