Nigerians have been advised to be wary of a recent campaign promise by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Giving this advice in a press statement in Abuja, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) said it amounts to deceit for the former Vice -President to promise to revive a company that President Muhammadu Buhari has firmly put on the path of revival after years of PDP misadventure.
In the statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO said that given his antecedent, it is almost certain that the only persons to benefit from Atiku’s promised revival would be Atiku Abubakar, his friends and cronies.
“It is ironic that the man under whose watch the multi-million dollar complex was concessioned in a manner that put the country in a legal bind is the same individual making a deceitful promise to revive it.
“It is laughable that the PDP presidential candidate could assume that all Nigerians have collective amnesia and would not remember that in 2004, he supervised a messy process that ended with a 10-year concession of Ajaokuta Steel to Global Steel, a company which a successor administration said was only interested in asset stripping and consequently revoked the concession agreement.
“Nigerians should note that the Ajaokuta Steel Company has since 2008 been bogged down by legal disputes that seemed intractable, and which rendered the company virtually moribund until recently when President Buhari succeeded in reaching a settlement of $496m with the original concessionaires who were claiming $7bn in damages.
“So in effect, the Buhari administration has freed Ajaokuta of all legal encumbrances that Atiku and PDP plunged it into and is now on the verge of concessioning it to a competent bidder with sufficient capacity to run a world-class steel company.
“This is where we were until a few days ago when the former Vice President vowed to revive Ajaokuta, and we began to wonder whether he really knows what is happening in the country, especially as he spends a large chunk of his time in the United Arab Emirates”, the statement added.
The group argued that this was not the first time the opposition would promise to do what the Buhari administration has already put in place.
“We know the former Vice President’s campaign team has of late been promising to do things that the President Buhari administration had already embarked on, but we find it embarrassing that Alhaji Atiku will, by himself, make a promise to revive Ajaokuta few weeks after the President announced the breakthrough.
“For the avoidance of doubt, President Buhari was in Kogi State only a few days ago and he used the opportunity to formally inform the people that the Ajaokuta Steel Complex is back in the hands of the country after years of strangulating local and international legal disputes.
“Let us add that the Buhari administration has already received bids from 11 companies, including three from Russia, in line with the government’s commitment to ensuring that the company is concessioned to a competent bidder with the necessary technical and financial capacity.
“It will be recalled that President Buhari had, as far back as 2019, discussed the idea of resuscitating the steel complex with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Russian-Africa Summit in Moscow.
“An agreement was also reached for Russian engineers to come in for a technical audit by March 2020 but COVID-19 stalled the plan. Today, there is a transaction adviser in place to guide the process that will lead to injection of funds into Ajaokuta.
“So it beggars belief that Atiku and his advisers are working on re-inventing the wheel on this matter of reviving the steel complex”, the statement added.