Francis Kadiri, Abuja.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite has debunked media reports suggesting that Ajaokuta Steel Company was handed over to a British firm, stating that ‘at no time did he say that the federal government was handing over Ajaokuta to a British firm for rehabilitation.’
The minister, who made the refutation in a statement signed by Special Adviser on Media, Ayodeji Adeyemi, said it is important to ‘correct false narratives by some media outlets on Ajaokuta Steel plant and the purported hand over of the plant to a British firm.’
The minister clarified that a local Nigerian firm with a British partner, had expressed interest in carrying out the Technical Audit for free with no preconditions.
He pointed out that the Federal Government had been in discussion with a Russian firm – Messrs TPE (nominated by the Russian government) towards conducting the technical audit.
Ayodeji quoted the minister as saying that ‘the war between Ukraine and Russia caused a setback to the proposed plan,’ adding that it was difficult to move forward with the Russian firm due to international sanctions imposed on Russia, which has also impacted Russian firms and businesses.’
‘Meanwhile, a local company in partnership with a British company has offered to execute the technical audit at no cost to Nigeria and with no preconditions.
‘This was what I said at the media parley at the state house and not that Ajaokuta would be handed over to a British company for rehabilitation,’ the minister clarified.
Adegbite explained that when the technical audit is completed, the result would be shared with all interested investors and potential partners interested in Ajaokuta Steel Plant resuscitation, which they would use to enter their submission bids.
He said in order to ensure that the entire process is transparent, a firm was appointed in 2018 as Transaction Advisor. ‘This firm has been revalidated by the BPP (Bureau of Public Procurement) and will guide and ensure a transparent due process in the selection of the eventual firm for Ajaokuta Steel restoration,’ he said, adding that the technical audit will carry out all financial, environmental and technical due process to establish the successful firm and the mode of engagement.
According to the minister, various bids would be ranked by the transaction advisor according to merits.
Adegbite noted that the outcome of the transaction advisor’s work would be taken to the Federal Executive Council for a robust discussion and eventual decision.