This was one of the decisions reached at a meeting of the National Council on Privatisation presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Muhammed Sada; Minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo; Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise, Benjamin Dikki; and the Sole Administrator of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Isah Onobere, briefed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting.
Nebo said the council’s position was that people could not be holding coal licences while the government was busy searching for coal to power the country.
“Council today decided to do something to ensure that those holding coal licenses, like land speculators, give way. They cannot be holding the licenses while we are searching for coal.Those who do not want to immediately produce coal should have their licenses withdrawn,” he said.
Sada said the Federal Government would give those with such licences one month to come up and show why they should not be withdrawn from them.
He said the government would not hesitate to apply the “principle of use it or lose it” after the period of grace.
Dikki said the council decided to take the decision because the country could not continue to import coal despite having huge deposits of coal.
He said those with licenses must be ready to mine coal to save foreign exchange and create job opportunities.
On the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Sada said the government was currently engaging the other party and that both parties were at the verge of signing an agreement.
He said the Vice President had during the meeting handed down timelines to ensure that the process is concluded without further delay.
He said the council was interested in pursuing the assignment with diligence in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.
Sada also disclosed that the past privatisation of steel industries like ALSCON and Delta Steel left some labour issues such as emolument of members of staff.
He said Sambo had directed the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to look at the outstanding welfare issues of the privatised companies.
Nebo further disclosed that efforts were ongoing to resolve the impasse concerning Enugu and Aba power firms.
Dikki said the council noted the progress being made in the liquidation of NITEL/MTEL and expressed satisfaction that the liquidator has taken over.
He said an investment conference will hold in London soon on the matter.