The Ajaokuta Steel Company has not yet matured for privatization as doing so without completing the project would amount to selling the company as scrap to buyers.
This is the consensus of stakeholders in the iron and steel sector of the country at a joint press briefing in Abuja yesterday, convened by the African Iron and Steel Association, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), representatives of the host communities and other critical stakeholders in the sector.
|Ajaokuta Steel Company|
A professor of Extractive Metallurgy and Material Processing, who is also the co-chair of the Iron and Steel Development Committee of the NSE, Prof. David Esezobor, said any attempt to privatize the company would yield no positive result as the government should be more focused on completing the project, providing the supporting infrastructure and commercializing the company for some years before privatizing it.
Esezobor said the stakeholders were against the concession of any steel plant in the country, including the recently signed modified concession agreement for Itakpe Iron Ore Mining Company to Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited.
He the Federal Government to invite the original builders of the Ajaokuta Steel Company to complete the project instead of the attempts at concessions.
The convener of the stakeholders’ forum, Dr. Sanusi Muhammed of the African Iron and Steel Association, said Nigeria needs $1.1 million to complete the Ajaokuta Steel project – about $420m to complete the plant and $500m to complete supporting infrastructures around the plant such as roads.
He said at the moment, 40 units of the plant have been completed, with only three units remaining, which government can complete before privatizing the company.
Dr. Muhammed revealed that a company, Ajaokuta Kogi Nigeria Limited, has been registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to acquire Ajaokuta Steel Company, a development which, he said, the stakeholders were already moving against.
A labor leader, Comrade Issa Aremu, has also backed the position of the stakeholders that government should complete the Ajaokuta project before considering its privatization.
He said Nigeria cannot drive development without industrialization and this can only be possible if the steel sector is developed.
Credit: Daily Trust, Kogireports.