Abuja – The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, has revealed that the beleaguered Ajaokuta Steel project can no longer be completed this year as planned, but he said the Federal Government would initiate irreversible processes to ensure it is completed beyond the Buhari administration.
He disclosed this as he addressed State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja during a special weekly briefing coordinated by the Presidential Communications Team.
The minister said the project has been delayed by COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war between Russian and Ukraine, hence it can no longer be completed as planned.
Adegbite said the government had, prior to the pandemic, convinced Russia to complete the steel facility in Kogi State but was unable to continue with the negotiations due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
He said the negotiations involved a $2 million fee for a technical audit required to ascertain the state of the facility before works begin.
He added that the Federal Government moved to continue the earlier negotiations with Russia following the lockdown, but progress was halted again due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
But, he explained that the government would initiate irreversible processes to ensure the resumption and eventual completion of the steel plant beyond the Buhari regime.
The president, Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Obiora Okonkwo had last year expressed the readiness of the Russian Federation to assist the Federal Government in revamping the steel facility, but said the onus was on Nigeria to take the first step.
“Russia has made itself available to the Nigerian government that should they decide to bring back the original equipment manufacturer, they are ready to assist.
“Revamping Ajaokuta has a lot more to do with Nigeria and not Russia. It is more of our policy somersault and a whole lot of conflicting international interests,” Okonkwo said.
The Russian government had, in turn, nominated TPE, the original builders of the Ajaokuta plant to conduct technical audit of the facility to ascertain the level of work left to be done for the completion of the project.
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