The Federal Government has said that former vice president Atiku Abubakar, who oversaw Ajaokuta Steel Company’s dubious and unsuccessful concession, is not the person who can solve the issues the company is currently faced with.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made this statement on Thursday in Abuja at the 19th iteration of the President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023).
Mohammed in an opening statement said that Atiku and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate’s pledge to fix the corporation if elected were dishonest and motivated by a desire for power.
He claimed that Atiku was being dishonest when he made the promise during a campaign rally in Kogi State about two weeks prior, and he urged Nigerians not to allow themselves to “be conned twice.”
Mohammed said: “About two weeks ago, during his campaign stop in Kogi State, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP, said if voted into office, his government will resolve the problems facing the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
“This is a deceitful statement borne out of desperation for power. A little bit of background will show that the former Vice President was deceiving Nigerians when he made that promise. Ajaokuta was concessioned to Global Steel Industry in 2004 by the regime of then-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
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“Who was in charge of that Administration’s privatization programme? Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. That concession that turned out to be a mess was terminated by another PDP Administration.”
The minister also claimed that after the failed concession, Global Steel Industry sued Nigeria and demanded seven billion dollars; with the litigation dragging for 12 years.
The corporation eventually paid for $496 million, according to Lai Mohammed, when President Buhari’s administration intervened.
The minister stated that the nation had agreed to pay the remaining 496 million dollars in five installments after making a bulk payment of $250 million.
“Following the failed concession, the concessionaire, Global Steel Industry, took Nigeria to court, asking for $7 billion, and that case lingered for 12 years until the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari stepped in and the company finally settled for $496 million.
“Out of the amount, we made a bulk payment of $250 million and agreed to pay the balance in five instalments. To date, we have paid a total of $446 million out of the $496 million. We will make the last payment of $50 million next month and Ajaokuta will revert fully to us -ending the shameful and failed concession by the administration in which Alhaji Atiku Abubakar served as the VP.
“Nigerians should beware of snake oil salesmen, who engage in deceit just to swindle them. The solution to Ajaokuta does not lie in the hands of the same people who scuttled the development of the country’s steel industry through a questionable concession. Nigerians beware! Don’t allow yourselves to be conned twice!,” Mohammed said.