Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has disclosed that the parlia-ment will resist any move to concession Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, saying doing so would amount to concenssioning Nigeria’s future.
The speaker, who said it is a collective shame to all leaders that the project is yet to be completed after so many years, spoke when he led members of the House Committee on Steel to the company in Kogi State.
Dogara also announced that the House will consult with stakeholders to work out ways to source for the $500 million needed to complete the last phase of the project. He said the reason why the steel company had not been completed was due to a leadership problem, saying where there is competent leadership, ways to source funding for such a multipotential company will not be a problem.
According to him, the present leadership has shown direction by first ending an arbitration case in foreign jurisdiction. Dogara said that there are many ways through which the $500 million can be sourced, including the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Excess Crude Account and recovered financial crimes loot.
The Speaker added that the House will hold another of its sectoral debates, where the lawmakers will meet with relevant agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) whose chairman, Ibrahim Magu, will be expected to brief the House how much it has recovered from corruption proceeds that can be applied into the completion of the project.
He explained that his determination to ensure that the steel company is revived is borne out of the promises that the company holds for Nigeria’s teeming population in the form of power and gas development, economic boost, thousands of jobs creation, development of manufacturing sector, development of infrastructure, investor appeal, among others. The speaker maintained that running and managing the company can be concessioned after completion, since government is not a good manager of companies.
He said: “Imagine if this plant had been completed in 1986, where Nigeria would be at the moment. “Any patriotic Nigerian that visits this place will shed tears irrespective of the part the person is from. And for a foreigner that visits here, when he hears people describe this place as a shithole, he will go with the impression that it may be true. We have no reason not to complete that plant. “You cannot concession your future, it is never done. I’m yet to see a nation that even concessions its bedrock and still succeeded. If you see one, just tell me.
And that’s why previous attempts to concession it were not possible. “We keep repeating the same things and expecting to get different results. That’s the definition of stupidity and since we are not stupid, we will not repeat it. We can make Nigeria proud so that every black man in the world can beat his chest.
Anyone who plans to outsource the completion of this plant will definitely run into problems with us.” Earlier, when the House delegation visited the Government House, the Speaker said: “I believe that as soon as we put this plant into operation, immediately there will be 10,000 jobs for engineers and technical staff. That’s even as the level of the first phase and talk about other non-engineering staff, thousands again and other splinter opportunities that will come, that’s a projected two million jobs.
“We don’t need money; all we need is leadership. Wherever you see development anywhere in the world, it is not money that brought it; some they say it is money, but it is leadership. As a matter of fact, it is even leadership that brings the money.
“Talking about leadership, we are not trying to put the blame at the doorstep of the executive, no. All of us are leaders and, as a matter of fact, it is to our collective shame that up till now, we have not been able to finish and put into operation this company that was started long ago in view of the major promises that it holds for the development of this country.
“But we want to thank God that we are now not short of leadership in this country. As a matter of fact, I was told that for some years, the plant was held down by a court action, arbitration instituted in a foreign jurisdiction.”
Governor Yahaya Bello commended Dogara for partnering with President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the idle Ajaokuta Steel Company is revived and put into use again. He said: “What you and the House of Reps are doing is giving the younger generation their future. We are simply taking our destiny into our hands, not only will posterity be kind to you, God almighty will also be pleased with you,” he added.
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