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Stakeholders tackle Kogi monarchs for alleged plot to scuttle Ajaokuta Steel Company investigation

Stakeholders tackle Kogi monarchs for alleged plot to scuttle Ajaokuta Steel Company investigation

Stakeholders in the iron and steel sector in Nigeria said the major issue at stake in the sector was the investigation of Ajaokuta Steel and NIOMCO from 2008 to date.

They also said that history would be kind to President Bola Tinubu and Senate President, Chief Godswill Akpabio if they were able to investigate the activities of the moribund companies.

‘’The anti-Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan move is choreographed by the government of Kogi State. Those ostensibly leading it are all ciphers, people who do not have the interests of the Kogi people at heart. The ongoing efforts by Kogi monarchs to stop the investigation of Ajaokuta Steel Company will fail. There is no substitute for investigation’’ the Chairman of the Nigerian Steel and Automotive Industry Forum, Dr. Nicholas Okonkwo, said in a statement Thursday.

Speaker after speaker at the 4th Ajaokuta Steel Plant Revival Summit held in Abuja disowned the traditional rulers and assured the public that President Bola Tinubu and Senate President, Chief Godswill Akpabio, would ensure proper investigation of Ajaokuta Steel Company.

The traditional rulers from the Ebira ethnic group, in a letter to the President of the Senate, Chief Godswill Akpabio, urged Kogi State indigenes in the National Assembly to work for the common good of Ebiraland, Kogi State, and Nigeria in general.
The letter signed by Ohi 0f Adavi, Eganyi, Ihima, Eika, Okene, Mohammed Bello, Musa Isah Achuja, Ahmed Abdulraheem, Umar Opewu, and Isah Mamman maintained that the issue of Ajaokuta Steel Plant and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, must be handled with caution and statesmanship.

The quest for resuscitation must begin with a holistic investigation of the circumstances that led to the re-concession of NIOMCO, even when the initial concession agreement was validly terminated by the YarAdua administration with a positive review by the International Chamber of Commerce, London.

Senator representing Kogi Central senatorial district, Chief Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, is working for the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe. She recently filed a motion to investigate alleged corruption and inefficiency at the moribund companies.

The stakeholders are pushing for the investigation of the payment of $496 allegedly made to Mr Pramod Mittal, Chairman, Global Infrastructural Holdings LTD (GINL), by the Federal Government in September 2022 as a settlement over said contractual disputes.

They are calling for a review of existing policies and laws on steel development in Nigeria, the dissolution of the sole administratorship of Ajaokuta Steel Company, and the promotion of good corporate governance, efficiency, and accountability by constituting a proper management and governing board for the company.

They want a structure that should comprise, but not be limited to a managing director, a director of projects, a director of Finance, a Director of corporate services, and representatives from professional bodies such as Society of Engineers, the Nigerian Metallurgical Society and representatives from supervising ministries of finance and steel and of course Host Community.
However, the monarchs urged the legislators to show responsiveness and collaboration.

‘’’ Our position therefore is that our legislators must cooperate with the Honourable Minister of Steel Development, the management of the two companies and stakeholders to come up with workable positions and ideas that would strengthen the hand of President Bola Tinubu to ensure that Ajaokuta Steel Plant works ‘’

The traditional custodians of the people of Kogi Central and Ebiraland listed massive employment generation for our teaming youths, technological breakthroughs, and economic emancipation as obvious benefits of the resuscitation and completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe.

They recalled the bold steps of President Muhammadu Buhari, urging President Tinubu to consider it a priority to revisit the twin Ajaokuta and Itakpe projects.

‘’The history of these companies in our land has seen glory and trepidation. The best of the moments were between 1979 and 1983, during the era of late President Shehu Shagari, whose government took the project from scratch to a near completion stage in record time. His administration showed commitment, carried everybody along, and capped it up with the creation of a separate ministry of steel development and the appointment of the Late Mamman Ali Makele, an indigene of the state as Minister, a decision that made policy implementation on issues related to the development of Ajaokuta Steel Plant and Itakpe Iron Ore Mining Company easier and efficient. This is why we have a place we now call a steel plant, though left uncompleted forty years down the line’’.

They also commended Tinubu on his development strides, restoration of the Steel Development Ministry and appointment of an indigene of Kogi State to drive its efforts in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda.

‘’The new policy initiative is commendable and needs the support of every Sons and Daughters of Ebiraland and Kogites. This period is therefore a period of collaboration of ideas, support of government initiatives on these two companies and above all it is a period to deescalate controversies that may distract the government, stakeholders and would be investors that may show interest in helping to give life to the Ajaokuta”.

 

· Praise Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan