Plans to ‘Trade Out’ Nigeria’s Leading Steel Companies Raise Concerns

As President Muhammadu Buhari prepares to leave office by May 29,  plans to “trade out” Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and Itakpe Iron Ore Company remain an issue of public concern.

The Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development had, through newspaper advertisements, called upon interested parties to brace up ahead of the May 12, set deadline.

The Social Integrity Network, (SINET), a civil society group, during its emergency meeting held in Jos, the Plateau State capital on Monday reacted to the plans, especially in relation to the newspaper advertisements titled: REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATION FOR THE CONCESSION OF THE ITAKPE  NATIONAL IRON ORE MINNING COMPANY SOLICITED PPP PROCESS as well as REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATION FOR THE CONCESSION OF THE  AJAOKUTA STEEL COMPANY LIMITED SOLICITED PPP PROCESS dated Friday 21st April 2023.

The Group fingered the Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Arch Olamilekan Adegbite, in the questionable deal aimed at subjecting Nigerians to eternal hardship in an attempt to heed to the bidding of some capitalists whose moves are antithetical to national interest and economic growth.

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SINET National Coordinator, Ibrahim Issah, noted that concession of National Heritages such as National Iron Ore Company Limited, Itakpe and Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited should be subjected to thorough legislative processes and contributions from major stakeholders such as the Manufacturers of Association of Nigeria, (MAN) with considerable time frame.

The group is also worried about why the President Muhammadu-led government is stampeding the entire process when it has only about 34 days to hand over leadership to a newly democratically elected government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

It stressed that the outgoing government should be sensitive to the fact that adequate time is required for genuine participation in equity, fairness and justice for Nigerians. 

“There is need for the leadership of the National Assembly, Civil Society Organizations, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, (ICPC) Bureau of Public Enterprises, (BPE), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) to quickly intervene and order immediate reversal of the process in the interest of over 200million Nigerians. Failure to do this is tantamount to the fact that Nigeria is sitting on the keg of gunpowder and only waiting to explode.

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“Its explosion will no doubt set the economy of Nigeria backwards geometrically and further create some unforeseen consequential repercussions for the incoming administration amidst numerous campaign promises, high determination to deliver as well as high expectations from the electorates,” the group said.

Further, SINET commended the Federal Government for settling the long-standing contractual dispute with a foreign investor group in the steel industry, by securing a reduction of the blackmailing claim of the sum of $5.258 billion to $496 million “owing to the mistake which was made by the Federal Government by dashing away Delta Steel Company which was one her best National Steel Heritage to a foreign investor without any success story till date, thereby laying fallow.

“Delta Steel Company which is supposed to generate employment opportunities for Nigerians and create more economic fortunes for entrepreneurs is still left redundant even after many years of its outright sale-off.”

The group, however, appealed to Nigeria’s Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to urgently constitute a committee of enquiry and ensure that the process is halted, reversed and handed over to the incoming administration for proper scrutiny and consideration with national interest.

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