Senate calls for sack of interim management of Ajaokuta Steel

Henry Umoru

6 December 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The Chairman, Senate Committee on Power and Steel Development, Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda, has ordered the Minister of Mines and Steel, Musa Sada, to, as a matter of urgency, dissolve the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of Ajaokuta Steel Company for the roles of its members in the sale of vital equipment of the company.

Senator Aduda who noted during his meeting with the Minister and other stakeholders that the committee would seek an audience with President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that the IMC was dissolved, however called on the Minister to immediately order the dissolution of the IMC, just as Sada had informed the committee that IMC had raised issues of their powers with the assertion that they were created by the Federal Executive Council.

Aduda said: “We are mandating you to report to the Federal Executive Council that the IMC should be disengaged and let a more realistic management team be set up for the running of the place. We don’t understand how management team set up to run for six months has been there for four years, that is not acceptable.

“The management team should be sacked, they should be investigated for their involvement in asset stripping. We want you to revert to the Federal Executive Council and inform it that we have directed that the IMC should be sacked.”

It would be recalled that the Interim Management Committee was set up in 2008 after the concession agreement was terminated and was to oversee the company for six months, even as the IMC had made a proposal to the Federal Government that it would need N430 million to revive the company, but following the inability to raise the funding, it was given the mandate to sell off equipment that were already not usable as a way of raising the funds.

In his comments, Sada told the Committee that when he first came into office as minister in May, 2010, what he did was to put a stop to the sale and ordered a technical audit of the company, adding that it was difficult to determine how the IMC arrived at equipment that were obsolete when a scientific check was not conducted.

According to him, the IMC had so far sold equipments from Ajaokuta to the tune of N58 million out of the projected N430 million before it was directed to put a stop to the exercise, adding that the sale also extended to equipment in the store, even as he disclosed that the use of scrap iron as raw materials at the moment was not sustainable against the backdrop that soon, scrap metals would no longer be available on our streets.

The Minister said that N1.2 billion request was necessary to set the rolling mills working and to clean up the environment, said, “No money was budgeted to keep the place maintained. Even if the company will be privatised, we need to main the place so that we can make prepare it and make it good enough for privatisation.”

Sada who noted that the production of steel purely from scrap would bring down the quality of steel produced locally, stressed that it was also responsible to the dependence on imported steel materials by contractors.

Speaking on the breach of concession agreement by the concessioners, the minister who explained that the ministry had compiled all the breaches and filed it at the Arbitration Panel, said, “We should not even be sitting down and negotiating with the concessioners, we should actually be prosecuting the concessioners for criminal breaches because they actually sold the concentrates and removed parts from the machines. These are things we are presenting to the panel as exhibits of a breach of the agreement.”

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