FG mocks Atiku over promises to revamp Ajaokuta
*Says Ajaokuta’s problems caused by Atiku as former VP
The Federal Government has mocked the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for promising to resolve the challenges facing Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Atiku was said to have made the promise about two weeks ago during his campaign stop in Kogi State.
But the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) through the Minister, of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described Atiku’s campaign promise as a deceit and that which was borne out of desperation for power.
He alleged that Atiku was only deceiving Nigerians when he made that promise as according, Ajaokuta was concessioned to Global Steel Industry in 2004 by the regime of then President Olusegun Obasanjo of which Atiku was in charge of the privatization programme.
The Minister said: “That concession that turned out to be a mess was terminated by another PDP administration. 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.”
The Minister informed that government is in talks with investors who are ready to bring their money into Ajaokuta to make sure it works.
“The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, who was here last month, assured that before this administration leaves office, Ajaokuta will be
concessioned in what he called equitable terms.
“What I am saying, in essence, is that the problems facing Ajaokuta were the poorly-thought-out and poorly-executed concession by the regime in which Alhaji Atiku was Vice President, and a regime under which he presided over the failed privatization programme.
“If the former Vice President had any solution to the Ajaokuta challenge, and he didn’t execute it in 2004, why should Nigerians trust him to do so in 2023, almost 20 years later?
“Apparently, the former VP is not even aware of the current status of Ajaokuta, the settlement reached with the concessionaire and the payments made. Without this information, how does he want to revive the steel company?
“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”, APC warned against PDP.