Why Ajaokuta steel re­mains co­matose –Jonathan

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Isi­aka Wak­ili

Un­less the le­gal is­sues sur­round­ing the pri­vati­sa­tion process of the Ajaokuta Steel Com­plex are sorted out, the com­pany can­not take off ef­fec­tively, Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan has said.

The pres­i­dent said this on Mon­day in Abuja while re­spond­ing to the re­quest by the People’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) del­e­ga­tion from the North Cen­tral zone for ur­gent re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of the com­pany.

Se­na­tor Amadu Ali, who led the del­e­ga­tion, had ear­lier urged Jonathan to rein­vig­o­rate the Ajaokuta steel project.

Ali had also im­plored the federal govern­ment to es­tab­lish a de­vel­op­ment com­mis­sion for solid min­er­als which, he said, were largely avail­able in the zone.

He also told the pres­i­dent that Kogi and Benue were yet to ben­e­fit from the deriva­tion prin­ci­ple on rev­enue for­mula.

Jonathan said the Ajaokuta Steel Com­plex is a project that should be dear to any­one de­sir­ing to move Nigeria for­ward, adding that it is the bedrock of his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion pro­gramme.

The pres­i­dent ex­plained that the project had been co­matose be­cause of cer­tain lit­i­ga­tions aris­ing from its pri­vati­sa­tion process.

“Of course, on Ajaokuta, the key thing is that we had some chal­lenges with the pri­vati­sa­tion process. The people that got it, there were some is­sues, but be­cause of these lit­i­ga­tions, the project was held down. And all along, we’ve been try­ing one way or the other. But the project can­not take off very ef­fec­tively be­cause we want the pri­vate sec­tor to come in ro­bustly if we must get out from where we are, but they will find it dif­fi­cult ex­cept the le­gal is­sues are sorted out.

“In fact, we’ve sim­i­lar is­sues with the La­gos-Ibadan ex­press­way be­cause of the pri­vate sec­tor in­volve­ment. Bi Court­ney could not do it. To bring the pri­vate sec­tor in be­came a prob­lem. So, govern­ment had to take over. Un­til we can sort out ev­ery­thing, the pri­vate sec­tor can­not come in, Ajaokuta is a lit­tle more com­pli­cated. The La­gos-Ibadan road was owned by govern­ment. Though Ajaokuta was a govern­ment com­pany, it was the one that runs it­self.”

He said the is­sues are be­ing sorted out be­cause with­out mines and steel, the na­tion can­not in­dus­tri­alise.

PHOTO ABUBAKAR YAKUBU

FCT Min­is­ter of State Oloye Ola­jumoke Ak­in­jide com­mis­sion­ing the en­tre­pre­neur­ial com­plex of Abuja En­ter­prise Agency in Abuja yes­ter­day.

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