…Pass vote of no confidence on Ministers of Mines and Steel Dev.
23 March 2018, Sweetcrude, Abuja – About 301 members of the House of Representatives have jointly sponsored each of two bills aimed at stopping the concession of Ajaokuta Steel Company of Nigeria.
The action by the members is coming on the heels of the face off between the House of Representatives and the Minister of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and his supporting minister, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari, over the concessioning of the complex.
The first bill with the long title: “A bill for an act to provide for the Ajaokuta Steel Company completion fund for the speedy completion of the project and other related matters”, was presented on behalf of the 301 members by Nkem Abonta (Abia-PDP).
It seeks to provide funds for the speedy completion of the beleaguered Ajaokuta steel complex.
The second bill titled; “A bill for an Act to amend the Public Enterprise (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act to review the list of enterprises to be privatised’ was also presented on behalf of the 301 members by Mr. Abonta.
This seeks to delete the Ajaokuta Steel Company from the list of enterprises to be commercialised.
The two bills have scaled second reading.
The Minister, Kayode Fayemi, and the House of Representatives have repeatedly disagreed on government’s plan to concession the oldest but uncompleted steel project in the country.
The Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, after a recent visit to the Ajaokuta Steel plant, said one of the reasons the steel company had not been completed was due to a leadership problem.
He reportedly said that “where there is competent leadership, ways to source funding for such a multi-potential company will not be a problem.”
Mr. Dogara disclosed that there were many ways through which the $500 million said to be needed to complete the plant can be sourced, including the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Excess Crude Account and recovered financial crimes loot.
He said even if it means borrowing the required money, the 8th House of Representatives would make sure it becomes a reality.
The house recently organised a sectoral debate on the steel industry where the ministers of mines and steel development failed to show up.
Mr. Fayemi, through his spokesman, said he and the junior minister duly notified the house of their inability to attend prior to the debate.
He has also said that the ongoing plan to concession the plant was approved in the 2017 budget.
Unimpressed with the defence, the lawmakers described it as a ‘deliberate boycott’, and subsequently passed a vote of no confidence on Mr. Fayemi and his state counterpart, Bawa Bwari.
The House of Representatives had last Thursday advised President Muhammadu Buhari to stop Mines and Steel Development Minister, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, from concession moves of Ajaokuta Steel Company.
The House said that the stoppage was to give time for the conclusion of the review of the process ordered by the chamber as part of its drive to get the company back on stream.
The ministers, in a statement issued in Abuja by the Special Adviser on Media to the minister, Mr. Olayinka Oyebode, said they have not contracted any transactional adviser for concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company as wrongly asserted by the House.
They also said the ministry has not spent a dime from the N2, 096,500.00 appropriated by the House for concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company in the 2017 Appropriation Act.
They said it was rather worrisome that the House of Representatives could devote an entire day to non-existing matter.
The statement noted that, “The attention of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari, has been drawn to the debate by members of the House of Representatives on the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, where the House adopted a resolution to stop the planned concessioning of the steel company.
“Whilst the ministers are convinced the Honourabe members mean well as patriots concerned about an important national asset, it is also a fact that they have grossly misunderstood the ministers and other stakeholders working with the Ministry on this exercise.
“In view of this and the need to set the record straight for the sake of the general public and the investing community, it is important to state as follows: The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has not contracted any transactional adviser for the concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company, as wrongly asserted by the House.