By Rotimi Ijikanmi
The Federal Government says the solution to problems facing Ajaokuta Steel Company does not lie in the hands of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who supervised its questionable and failed concession.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai said this on Thursday in Abuja at the 19th edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023)’.
In an opening remark, the minister said it was deceitful and out of desperation for power for Atiku, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate to have promised to fix the company if voted into office.
He said Atiku who made the promise about two weeks back during his campaign stop in Kogi State, was not sincere and Nigerians should not allow themselves “to be conned twice’’.
“A little bit of background will show that the former Vice President was deceiving Nigerians when he made that promise. Ajaokuta was concessioned to Global Steel Industry in 2004 by the administration of then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“Who was in charge of that Administration’s privatisation programme? Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“That concession that turned out to be a mess was terminated by another PDP administration.
“If the former Vice President had any solution to the Ajaokuta challenge, and he didn’t execute it in 2004, why should Nigerians trust him to do so in 2023, almost 20 years later?
Mohammed said following the failed concession, the concessionaire, Global Steel Industry, took Nigeria to court, asking for seven billion dollars and the case lingered for 12 years.
He said it was the administration of President Buhari that stepped in and the company finally settled for 496 million dollars.
The minister said that out of the 496 million dollar, the country had made a bulk payment of 250 million dollars and agreed to pay the balance in five installments.
“To date, we have paid a total of 446 million dollars out of the 496 million dollars.
“We will make the last payment of 50 million dollars next month and Ajaokuta will revert fully to us – ending the shameful and failed concession by the administration in which Alhaji Atiku Abubakar served as the vice president,’’ he said.
According to Mohammed, the government is already talking to investors who are ready to bring their money into Ajaokuta to make sure it works.
He reiterated the assurance by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, that before the Buhari administration leaves office, Ajaokuta will be concessioned in equitable terms.
NAN reports that after Mohammed’s opening remarks, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami presented the scorecard of his Ministry. (NAN)