FG Speaks On Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill
Minister of mines and steel development, Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed this yesterday while addressing State House correspondents during the special weekly briefing coordinated by the presidential media team at the presidential villa.
According to him, the Russia-Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic have frustrated the project on several fronts despite the fact that President Buhari had approved $2 million for the project.
Adegbite, who regretted that the company may not be fully revived under the current administration as earlier promised, said the government would initiate irreversible processes to ensure the resumption and eventual completion of the steel facility after Buhari’s administration.
He said, “Where we are today, we may not be able to get Ajaokuta to work but I pray that we can start something permanent. I’ve said it before when we came back from Russia. Yes, I went to the public and said ‘look, we will deliver Ajaokuta before the end of this tenure’.
“And I pray that I’ll have a chance to go back and apologise and explain what happened to the people before I leave office. It is due to no fault of ours. Everybody was ready to go, but unfortunately, COVID came in. So, it is a force majeure”
Adegbite further explained that the government moved to continue negotiations with Russia after the lockdown, but progress was again stalled due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
He said, “In October 2019, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and Russia’s Vladmir Putin met at the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi and agreed to revive the uncompleted Ajaokuta steel mill but the project suffered force majeure due to COVID-19”
The minister however stated that the arrangements with the Russian firm failed as the contract was awarded to a company with both Russians and Ukrainian interests.
He disclosed that the $2 million is safe in the federal government account, adding that “the money has not even been given to anybody.
“The Russians can’t get any payment now with the way things are happening in the world. All their accounts are blocked.
“So, the $2 million is still with the federal government; it’s just that the president has given the money for that purpose. We had started the process of procurement, then with this war; we can no longer go that way”, he added.
The minister revealed that the British firm is offering to do it for Nigeria free now, noting that “by the grace of God, we have started an irreversible process.
“The problem with Ajaokuta is actually what we call force majeure. Nobody thought of the COVID, because the plan was to deliver Ajaokuta this year 2022,” he added.
KanyiDaily recalls that in 2020, the Federal Government kicked off the long awaited resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel project with the inauguration of the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Implementation Team (APPIT).