06 February 2017, Abuja – The General Secretary of Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ISSSAN, Mr. Titus Orimijupa, has urged the Federal Government to give the Ajaokuta Steel Company to the Russians, who designed and constructed it with a view to making it operational, in the shortest possible time.
He spoke against the backdrop of alleged moves by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to hand over the completion of the project to the Chinese, a move that drew protesters to Abuja, last week.
Orimijupa told Vanguard in a telephone interview that the government should show commitment by doing what will revamp Ajaokuta Steel Company and must be transparent about it because the multi-billion dollar asset belongs to the Nigerian public.
He said: “Our position is this, it was designed and built by the Russians and we believe that Russians should be made to come and complete it if they have the financial wherewithal. You may have the technical wherewithal but not have the financial wherewithal. If they have both it is better for them to come and complete it and it is cheaper.
“It was said that it should be given to the Russians that initially designed and built it but there are a lot of politics up there and this regime also is complaining of money but from the beginning, the same regime has shown that it wants to be a rent collector rather than an investing regime.
“We prefer that the Russians come and complete it because when they say the Chinese will come, are they going to bring new technology? But if the Russians don’t have the financial resources and the Chinese have the financial resources, they could go into a joint venture agreement so that the original builder can complete it, then the Chinese will finance and they agree on the profit sharing formula. But the most important thing is that government must do everything possible to complete Ajaokuta Steel Company.”
“Ajaokuta is a national asset and anything concerning Ajaokuta should be made public, these issues of secrecy concluding things and deceiving Nigerians half way because they do not want Nigerians to be indebted perpetually so this is the only way out.
“During the time of Goodluck Jonathan, there was this public debate everywhere in the town hall and the stakeholders were involved. Even before this regime, they set up committees and they involved professionals but now, things are being done in such a way that nobody will have any knowledge how it is going.
“Everything has been concluded. We were not carried along. We have tried, been to National Assembly, they have held public hearing and many things have happened but yet we are in the dark.”