The Federal Government has inaugurated the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Implementation Team (APPIT), aimed at economic diversification agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari led-Administration.
Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), made this known in statement signed by Mr Willie Bassey, Director, Information, office of the SGF and made available to newsmen on Monday in Abuja.
Mustapha at the inauguration said Ajaokuta project was desired of the government to create opportunities for the development of national global capacity, especially, in the area of industrialisation within a diversified economy.
According to him, the Ajaokuta Steel plant has languished in economic unproductivity for about four decades and previous efforts at reviving it had proved abortive.
He said the situation had resulted in avoidable massive foreign exchange losses at intolerable opportunity cost to the country.
“The pressing need to redress these avoidable challenges has necessitated this Presidential intervention at this time. This is further underscored by difficulties being witnessed with present challenges in the global oil industry, he said.
The SGF stressed the importance of the Ajaokuta steel plant to the country.
According to him, government places a lot of value on the diversification of the economy; hence, President Buhari’s participation at the Russia/Africa summit in Sochi, Russia, placed emphasis on the project.
He said the President had in the summit, made efforts to resuscitate the Ajaokuta steel plant in partnership with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.
“The Ajaokuta Steel Project is to be resuscitated on the basis of a Government-to-Government agreement with funding from the Afreximbank and the Russian Export Centre.
“However, one of the key issues discussed by the parties was the Technical Audit, Upgrade, Completion and Operation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
“The inauguration of the APPIT is therefore meant to kick start the process of re-directing the activities of the Steel Plant with the aim of bringing the Steel Project back to life for the growth and economic development of our dear nation, “ he said.
According to Mustapha, the terms of reference of the committee is to ensure timely commissioning of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant within a reasonable period to be agreed upon by the parties to the agreement.
Also, the committee is to recommend primary tenure of a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) concession, among others
Other members of the APPIT, chaired by Mustapha include; Hon. Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Permanent Secretary, Mines and Steel Development, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Solicitor-General of the Federation and the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Justice.
Others are Mr Gabriel Aduda, Sole Administrator, Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd, Sole Administrator, National Iron Ore Mining Co., Vincent Dogo (Industry Expert) Prof. Elegba Shamsideen (Industry Expert).
Also, Dr. Godwin Adeogba (Industry Expert) Director-General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission and Director, Steel, Ministry of Mines and Steels Development. (NAN)