… Say Ajaokuta can’t work despite new agreement
Kunle Kalejaye 23 August 2016, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Members of Nigeria’s House of Representatives have expressed opposition to the new deal the Federal Government recently struck with Indian company Global Holding Infrastructure, GHI, on the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the Nigerian Iron-Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO, in Itakpe, Kogi State.
Chairman, House Sub-Committee on Steel, Mr. Gabriel Kolawole, revealed this, saying the Ajaokuta Steel Company would not come on stream despite new deal by the government, reclaiming the company from the Indian firm and at the same, concessioning NIOMCO to it.
He stated this at the meeting organised by Senator Ahmed Ogembe, to address issues militating against the take off of Ajaokuta and NIOMCO.
Kolawole said despite the agreement, there was no way Ajaokuta could take off because the issue of external infrastructure as it relates to the project was yet to be resolved.
The House of Representatives member alleged that GHI would mine the nation’s iron ore, exporting them without giving Nigeria the raw materials that would enable Ajaokuta to work.
He said the House of Representatives members and the House Committee on Steel would not allow GHI to commence any activity at NIOMCO, noting that government would need about N2 billion to get NIOMCO up and running.
“What we are saying as House of Representatives and House Committee is that we will not allow Global Steel to commence any activities at NIOMCO without ensuring that government meets up with obligations. 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 the 2016 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 it obligations, ensure that outstanding salaries are paid, severance are paid and we must ensure that GHI this time around does 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 were not addressed, there was no way either Ajaokuta Steel or 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 needed a deep sea port where we can bring in coking 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 Chines company to build the port to the requirement of bringing raw material in and outside Nigeria They will complete the rail way to Jakura where we have lime stone, they will also link Ajaokuta, 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 in trying to make sure that this external infrastructure are properly in place,” he said.
The convener of the meeting and a senator representing Kogi State in the National Assembly, Ahmed Ogembe, expressed sadness that many interests were working against the revitalisation of the company.
The senator queried why there is a rush in concessioning the National Iron Ore Mining Company in Itakpe despite the fact that it was supposed to be a source of raw materials for the Ajaokuta company, adding that government needed to get Ajaokuta Steel Company working before the concession the Itakpe company.
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 between the government and the 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.