Port Harcourt — The Social Integrity Network, SINET, has urged the Federal government to halt all transactions aimed at transferring the Delta Steel Company and Ajaokuta Steel Company to an Indian firm, Jindal-India, for their revitalisation, through the back door, contrary to national interest.
National Coordinator of SINET, Mr Ibrahim Issah, expressed worries over what he described as “the poor system of governance adopted by the Federal government through the Federal Ministry of Steel Development and Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, among agencies of the government.”
Issah, in a statement, asserted that preference should be given to indigenous companies that can run such plants, ensure employment generation, reducing imports and do away with siphoning out much-needed forex and mineral resources in the country.
The group regretted that despite the presence of highly intellectual personalities in the country such as university professors, industrialists, seasoned administrators, captains of industries, technical and financial experts, etc, the federal government still allowed foreigners to fool the nation with unrealistic proposals and business plans.
While confirming that Jindal-India has been asked to work out a takeover proposal back-door without public notice knowing well that several injunctions have been in different courts, SINET warned the federal government to understand that Ajaokuta and Delta Steel Company have obsolete technologies and any company claiming to run and earn profit was just misleading the nation with nefarious intentions.
“We hereby advise the federal government and its concerned Ministries to carefully dig deep into Jindal-India’s detailed project report, business plan, capital outlay, and cash flow projections by involving independent agencies and champions of business here in Nigeria.
“We are quite sure that the so-called $5billion investment from Jindal is a faux pass and outrightly exaggerated number that will put Nigeria, her assets, resources, and the general public in total mess again,” the statement partly read,
SINET also recalled that the National Assembly Joint Committee on Steel Development recently passed a resolution to probe the $496million paid by the Buhari-led government to an Indian firm, Global Infrastructure Holding Ltd, which failed to revitalize the Itakpe Iron Ore Company after three years.
It said: “The Global Infrastructure Holding Ltd., GIHL took over the National Iron Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO, Itakpe, Kogi State in 2016 and got its agreement terminated in 2019 due to non-performance. GIHL dragged the Federal Government to court for breach of contract and it was awarded damages to the tune of $496million which had been paid.
“We are outrightly against the way the federal government is deliberately and ignorantly selling out our national heritage without recourse to the yearnings and agitation of Nigerians, especially at this crucial period when the nation is battling with economic stability among other challenges.
“Almost five decades of lost opportunity towards strengthening large scale steel production in Nigeria, failed attempts without a proper roadmap. It is also on record that Russians and Ukrainians supplied already obsolete technology then in the 1970s
The group added: “Another blunder was committed by handing over Ajaokuta, Itakpe mines with all the infrastructure and Delta Steel plants to Global Infrastructure Holding Ltd, India. They took over the plant and siphoned out all the resources from the country and eventually Nigeria did not get any benefit. GIHL was never serious in running the plants and mines at Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Delta Steel Company, and Itakpe.
“Later, GHIL sold its stakes in Delta Steel Company to Stallion Group under a SPV to Premium Steel & Mines Limited. This acquisition was also a marvel of financial engineering by PSML to hide black money generated and siphon out of the country through their other businesses.When Stallion did not get support from the former President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, they had to shut down the PSML Warri business around 2020.
“Sadly, for the third time, the Federal Government is trying to bring in Indian companies to loot the resources from Ajaokuta, Delta steel plants, and Itakpe mines.
“Interestingly, the immediate past government had paid the sum of $496 million to GIHL as compensation even despite massive public outrage, wherein, these investors are merely looking at Itakpe mines to cater to their offshore companies at much cheaper rate of iron ore supplies.”