Federal Government has taken over the Ajaokuta Steel Complex in a renewed bid to free the company from contractual encumbrances that left the company prostrate for decades. Government also signed a new, renegotiated agreement with an Indian firm, Global Steel Holdings Limited, for the Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe.
The new agreement, coming after four years of mediation, was signed at a ceremony presided by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja
Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, signed on behalf of the government, while Chairman of GSHL, Prammod Mittal signed on behalf of the company.
The Minister of State for Solid Minerals Development, Hon Abubakar Bwari; the International Mediator, Mr Phillip Howell-Richardson, and top officials of the Ministries of Justice and Solid Minerals Development also witnessed the signing ceremony.
Speaking at the event, Prof Osinbajo hailed the mediation process that led to the resolution of the problem that has made it impossible for the two national assets to be functional for years.
He said it was important the concession works “so that Ajaokuta can take off too”.
Fayemi, who led the Federal Government side in the mediation process, said with the new agreement on NIOMCO, the next step is to commence the process of taking over Ajaokuta and ensuring that it is given out to a serious operator with proven technical and financial capacity.
“It is our expectation that we would accomplish two things- bring NIOMCO to full function and start the process of retaking Ajaokuta and then give it to a new operator.
“With this, we will move from being just a mineral nation to a mining nation.
“Once the first phase of the agreement is accomplished, it is the intention of the FGN to quickly move into accomplishing the objectives of concessioning the Ajaokuta Steel Plant to the most competent operator who meets the requirements of credible track record, technical capacity and financial competence.
Chairman of GSHL, Mr Prammod Mittal, said the company waited for eight years to achieve this amicable settlement.
He said his organisation was committed to the objectives of the agreement and guaranteed supply to Ajaokuta plant and Delta Steel Company, after which it will sell what is left to other interested parties.
He assured the government of its readiness to commence operation soon, adding that in the next two years Nigeria would begin to produce steel.