Ajaokuta: Reps panel recommends use of Abacha loot
The House of Representatives ad hoc Committee on Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited has submitted its report to the House recommending that the loot recovered from the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, be channelled towards reviving Ajaokuta Integrated Steel Plant.
The committee in the report, which was obtained by newsmen, claimed that most of the money allegedly looted by Abacha was meant for the completion of Ajaokuta.
A large chunk of the money has, however, been put into the Social Investment Programme of the Muhammadu Buhari government, includes school feeding programme and skill acquisition initiative.
But the committee in the report signed by its Chairman, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Secretary, Ifeanyichukwu Abraham, said the Abacha loot could be put to better use.
The report stated, “That since it is known that most of the Abacha loot was got from the debt buy back deal involving Ajaokuta, then the recovered loot still flowing into Nigeria should be used to supplement the funding of the completion of Ajaokuta integrated steel plant.”
The 18-member committee, which visited several stakeholders including monarchs and members of the community where the company is domiciled, reported that the project was started by President Shehu Shagari in 1983 but subsequent governments failed to take necessary steps to complete it.
It added that when the Russian company that built the Ajaokuta firm (‘Tyazh Prom Export’TPE) left the site and Nigeria in 1994, the Ajaokuta Steel Complex was 98 per cent completed and that what was left as two per cent was due to failure of subsequent Nigerian governments to meet up with financial commitments and political will to complete the enabling external infrastructure to guarantee an uninterrupted functional steel company.
The committee added, “Harmful vested interests have predominantly played out in the last 15 years. For instance, in 2001, President Obasanjo travelled to Russia and signed a bi-lateral agreement that included the completion of Ajaokuta Steel plant.
“President Putin of Russia sent 40 experts to conduct a technical audit and secured funding for the project. Surprisingly, President Obasanjo reneged on the agreement and gave Ajaokuta and National Iron Ore Mining Company to SOLGAS Energy which lacked both the technical expertise and funds to manage the two companies.”
The committee said this was detrimental to the interest of Nigeria as SOLGAS entered into another agreement with Global Infrastructures Nigeria Ltd.
It said the Federal Government under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, upon consideration of the ‘Report of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry into the operations of ASCL,NIOMCO and DELTA STEEL at the Federal Executive Council meeting of April 2, 2008 nullified and terminated all the concessions entered into by the previous government of Obasanjo for breach of agreement and unwholesome practices and that ‘the agreements (concessions) were largely skewed in favour of SOLGAS.
The report added, “That the company, Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited is a dubious company with no good track record of any success story on ‘steel skill production and manufacturing’ and has been earlier indicted in Bulgaria for asset stripping and breach of contract and indicted by the Federal Government of Nigeria by late President Yar’Adua in 2008 for obvious criminal and unwholesome practices.