Barely five weeks to the end of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, attempt by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to commence process for the concession and final trade-out of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and Itakpe Iron Ore Company has sparked concern in several quarters.
The group made this known during an emergency meeting held in Jos, the Plateau State capital on Monday in reaction to some 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.
According to SINET, the publication further stressed that deadline for the submission of application by interest parties is Friday 12th May 2023 which only provides only four weeks for the completion of process about two weeks to expiration of the current administration (29th May 2023) despite the eight years of two term mandate (2015-2023) given by Nigerians.
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 also expressed worried why the President Muhammadu-led government is stampeding the entire process when it has only about 34 days to handover leadership to a newly democratically elected government of Bola Tinubu, urging the outgoing government yo be sensitive to the fact that adequate time is required for genuine participation for equity, fairness and justice to 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.
“Its explosion will no doubt set the economy of Nigeria backward 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.
SINET, however, 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 blackmailing claim of the sum $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 to entrepreneurs is still left redundant even after many years of its outright sale-off.”
The group therefore appealed to the 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.