*Wants amendment of NCP Act, Senate concurrence
* No, lawmakers acting on ignorance, misinformation- Minister
The House of Representatives, on Thursday, requested President Muhammadu Buhari to halt the planned concession of Ajaokuta Steel Complex pending a review of the concession arrangement to ensure transparency and in the national interest.
The House also passed a resolution upon the adoption of the motion sponsored by Hon. Ahmed Yerima and 24 other lawmakers.
Apart from halting the concession as conceptualised by Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, the House also resolved to amend the National Council on Privatization Act to remove Ajaokuta Steel Complex from the list of public companies listed in the schedule as well as remove the power to amend the extant Act from the purview of the NCP.
While advising the Buhari administration to complete the steel complex which is 98 per cent ready, the House said it would declare the steel sector as a major driver of the national economy.
Furthermore, the House said that it would through an ad hoc committee inquire into why the mines and steel development minister engaged Price Waterhouse Coopers to audit the Ajaokuta complex without due process, even though the firm has been globally discredited and is neck deep in promoting corruption, and has been indicted and punished in many jurisdictions.
The House also resolved to inquire into the nature of the conflict of interest in the minister appointing Greenwhich Trust Limited headed by the wife of his political mentor to serve as transaction adviser for Ajaokuta without due process.
The House resolved to extract a concurrence with its resolution by the Senate.
Moving the motion, Hon Yerima wondered why Fayemi would in violation of the House opposition to the concession
plan, announce the audit of the steel complex to be undertaken by a firm globally discredited and sanctioned in
India, Brazil, United Kingdom, United States, Japan, Iran, Sudan and Myanmar for offences ranging from money laundering, sponsoring terrorism and human rights abuses.
Yerima alleged that Price Waterhouse Coopers was engaged by Global Steel to advise them on how to recover Ajaokuta Steel Complex and the National Iron Ore Company, Itakpe, from the Federal Government in 2012.
He said, “The apparent actions of the minister in engaging a company whose antecedents may suggest that they are being engaged to audit and prepare reports which may skew the outcome thereof in a preconceived manner in favour of parties which the minister may have lined up or which may represent the interests of their former clients, Global Steel Nigeria Limited.”
He expressed concern that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) both mandated by law, have not been involved or engaged in the audit and concession process adopted by the minister.
Yerima added that he is outraged that the minister also appointed Greenwhich Trust Limited as the transaction adviser without inputs from the BPE and ICRC, and discarded other options suggested by the company other than concessioning.
“I am disturbed by the insistence and presumptive posture of the minister to concession Ajaokuta Steel Company to an apparently predetermined company, despite the failure of two previous concession attempts in 2003 to SOLGAS Energy of USA and in 2004 to Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, an Indian company.
“I am alarmed that the minister claimed that government cannot spend a kobo more on Ajaokuta when he’s already spending N2billion for the concession process and in the context of a situation where Nigeria spends over $3.5 billion on importation of steel related products annually.
“Also, almost two years since NIOMCO, Itakpe, was again handed over to Global Steel in the so-called modified concession agreement for a seven-year period with an option of a further 10 years, the plant which is integrated with Ajaokuta Steel Complex has remained moribund which signposts the likely failure of yet another concession,” he added.