By Aaron Ossai
Speaker of the House of Representatives has disclosed that the parliament will resist any move to concession Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, saying doing so would amount to concussing 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, made these statements when he led members of the House Committee on Steel to the company in Kogi State.
Hon 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, while noting that except the political will is lacking, getting the funds to complete the company shouldn’t be an issue.
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 multi potential company will not be a problem.
Saying the present leadership has shown direction by first ending an arbitration case in foreign jurisdiction, Hon Dogara disclosed 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.
The Speaker 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 was not possible.
“We keep doing 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 parliamentary delegation visited the Government House, the Speaker explained that,”We are here about a major promise to the country that is located here in Kogi State, which is the Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd.
“We all know the benefits of steel development. You cannot be an industrialised nation without developing the steel sector.
“Of course, I’ve seen the resolution that was passed and adopted by the Kogi State House of Assembly but I feel that this is just not a Kogi issue, this is a Nigerian issue in view of the major promise that this sector holds for Nigeria.
“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 2 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 door step 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 dogged by a court action, arbitration instituted in a foreign jurisdiction.
It has taken leadership to end this thing, to exit from this arbitration in 2016 and it is just this leadership that we need to be able to complete this plant that needs to be completed.
“I’ve heard so many stories about Ajaokuta, heard people talk about it but I had never been there. And that is why I felt that as legislators, we should come and see and have a feel of what’s going on there so that we can build a partnership with the executive to see that we complete this plant on time by the grace of God.”
Commending the governor of the state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, for the cordial relationship the executive and parliament share, he urges him to ensure that he performs well for the betterment of youths, which he belongs in.
“You are a man of our own generation, we are happy to connect with you and the promise too, that the youths of this country holds. I believe you represent that promise. It is said that the end of a matter of better than the beginning. It doesn’t matter how you have begun, but you must end well. And when you end well, it will be better for all of us- people of your age bracket and people who are coming after us. We know that with God on your side. Inspite of the challenges of revenue states are faced with, if you really dig down, you will be able to explore ways to increase revenue for this state and outshine those that came before you,” the speaker states.