Ajaokuta can’t work despite govt’s new agreement –Rep

*Ajaokuta Steel Company Nigeria.

*Ajaokuta Steel Company Nigeria.

….Kicks against concession of NIOMCO to GHI

Kunle Kalejaye

23 August 2016, Sweetcrude, Lagos — Members of Nigeria’s House of Representative have said that the Ajaokuta Steel Company won’t come on stream despite Federal Government’s new deal to reclaim the company and as well as the concession of Nigerian Iron-Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO to Global Holding Infrastructure, GHI.

They stated this at the Public Hearing convened by Senator Ahmed Ogembe, which seeks to address issues militating against the take-over of Ajaokuta and NIOMCO.

Chairman, House Sub-Committee on Steel, Hon. Gabriel Kolawole said that despite the agreement, there is no way Ajaokuta can take off because the issue of external infrastructure is yet to be put in place

By implication, Kolawole said GHI which is currently having an image problem bothering on incompetence will only come in and start mining the nation’s iron ore, and exporting same without giving Nigeria the raw materials that will enable Ajaokuta to work.

By implication, Kolawole said House of Reps members and the House Committee on Steel will not allow GHI to commence any activity at NIOMCO noting that government will need about N2 billion to get Itakpe up and running.

“So what we are saying as Rep members and the House Committee is that we will not allow Global Steel to commence any activities at NIOMCO without ensuring that government meets its obligation. As we speak, the government will need about N2 billion to get Itakpe at 100 percent completion and the N2 billion is not included in the last budget and in 2016 budget, I don’t think it is also in the budget so it simply means that there is no way Ajaokuta can take off even with the signing of the agreement.

“We must ensure that government meets its obligations, ensure that outstanding salaries are paid, severance packages are paid and we must ensure that GHI this time around do the right thing. If the right thing is not done, we are not going to allow them to commence any activities at the site,” Kolawole said.

Minister of State for Solid Minerals, Abubakar Bwari also noted that if external infrastructures are not addressed, there is no way either Ajaokuta Steel, Delta Steel or NIOMCO Itakpe will function.

“We need railway lines. For years, the 27-kilometre railway line to Warri has not been completed as I talk to you and we need a deep sea port where we can bring in cooking coal but that will not be possible with the kind of port we have in Warri.

“Happily, what this government has been doing is to engage investors and agreement has been signed with the Ministry of Transport and a Chinese company to build the port to the requirement of bringing raw materials in and outside Nigeria, they will complete the railway to Jakura where we have limestone, they will also link Ajaokuta and Abuja up to Kano.

“It will take us at least 18 months to get Ajaokuta on track. In the course of doing that, this company will be engaged to try and make sure that this external infrastructure is properly in place,” he said.

The convener of the meeting and the senator representing the zone at the National Assembly, Ahmed Ogembe, said that it was unfortunate that many interests are working against the revitalisation of the company.

The senator queried why there is so much rush to concession Itakpe National Iron Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO, despite the fact that it is supposed to be a source of raw materials for the Ajaokuta company, adding that government needs to make Ajaokuta Steel Company work before the concession of Itakpe.

The member, representing Okehi/Adavi federal constituency at the National Assembly, Honourable Kabiru Ajanah, said the public hearing conducted by the House Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation, indicated that critical stakeholders and the host community which he represents, were not carried along in the signed concession agreement with the same Indian firm.

“There is no way the Indians will come back to work in Itakpe without relating with the host community and it is in the best interest of the Federal Government and the Indian firm to carry the host community along in the signing of the agreement so as to avoid a repeat of the Niger Delta crisis in Itakpe.”

The executive secretary, African Iron and Steel Association, Dr. Sanusi Mohammed, said the concession agreement carried out by the Federal Government on NIOMCO was not in the best interest of Nigerians.

He urged Senator Ogembe to use the instrumentality of the National Assembly to prevail on the government to revisit the agreement made with the Indian company.

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