A coalition of civil society organizations, under the auspices of ‘CSO Coalition for the Revival of Ajaokuta’ commend the Federal Government of Nigeria for the recent efforts at paying off the country’s debt over Ajaokuta to a foreign firm spanning over 20 years.
In particular, it is heartwarming, patriotic and commendable to have succeeded in negotiating our debt from a whopping $5.28b to S496m after tax and overheads. The action which as reported, accounts for about 91% reduction of the Mediation Claim.
The negotiations which put to rest the long-standing contractual dispute with a foreign investor group in our view constitute the last process in the efforts to bring back Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited back to fruition. It is also a relief to win back the National Ore Mining Company in Itapke, NIOMCO that was hitherto under concession to this foreign interest.
“We therefore commend President Muhammad Buhari for keeping to his promise of ensuring the steel company is back to full operations before the end of his administration.” And all these we know would not have been possible without the political will from the President and the support by his Ministers and the Administrators of both Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, ASCL and NIOMCO administrators.
And with the settlement agreement coming into effect in August this year, we are convinced that this is a milestone to getting the steel plant back to life for the good and development of the country. We are convinced further that the ‘Industrialization Agenda’ of the Buhari administration is indeed working.
Recall that on November 25 last year at the National Conference on Ajaokuta Steel Company, organized by the Coalition, the CSOs had urged the federal government to consider it a patriotic gesture by putting the Ajaokuta phenomenon to rest through this process of arbitration, which has held backward the revival process over the years.
It is therefore clear, as stated by the Hon. Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami that President Muhammadu Buhari “has succeeded in rescueing the steel industry from interminable and complex disputes as well as saving the taxpayer from humongous damages”
As civil society organizations, representing the voice and interest of the Nigeria public, we would continue to play our role as independent monitors, to ensure the task of completing this revival process is done with utmost sincerity, diligence and patriotic zeal that will help to accelerate Nigeria’s industrialization agenda.
Mohammed Bougei Attah
Prince Chris Azor
International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre (IPCRC)
Barr. Ayo Adebusoye
Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs