FG inaugurates Ajaokuta Presidential project team

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(Abuja)

The road toward the realisation the age long Ajaokuta steel project brightened on Monday with the Federal Government inaugurating the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Inauguration Team (APPIT).

The move is to help revamp the company in line with the recent agreement reached with Russia to resuscitate the steel company.

Inaugurating the team in Abuja,the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who chairs the team noted that “the Ajaokuta Steel plant has languished in economic unproductivity for about four decades.”

He noted that “previous efforts at reviving it had proved abortive.”

Mustapha said this had resulted in avoidable massive foreign exchange losses at an intolerable opportunity cost to the country, adding that the pressing need to redress these avoidable challenges necessitated the current Presidential intervention.

“This is further underscored by difficulties being witnessed with present challenges in the global oil industry,”he added.

According to Mustapha, revamping the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, therefore clearly presents a unique opportunity to make the country, West Africa’s largest fully integrated steel producer.

He said the step would, most importantly, accelerat its industrialization especially in steel-related industries.

“This government places a lot of value on the diversification of the economy, hence, Mr President’s participation at the Russia-Africa Summit last year in Sochi, to discuss the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.

“Following the bilateral discussions in Sochi, Russia, the Ajaokuta Steel Project is to be resuscitated on the basis of a Government-to-Government agreement with funding from the Afreximbank and the Russian Export Centre.

“However, one of the key issues discussed by the parties was the Technical Audit, Upgrade, Completion and Operation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.

“Today’s inauguration of the “Ajaokuta Presidential Project and Implementation Team” (APPIT) is therefore meant to kick-start the process of re-directing the activities of the Steel Plant with the aim of bringing the Steel Project back to life for the growth and economic development of our dear nation.

“I am happy to note that preliminary works have commenced, determining parameters for the effective and coordinated take-off of rehabilitation works on the Steel plant.

“It is on this note that Mr President graciously approved the composition of this Implementation Team that is being inaugurated today,”he added.

The team is to engage in all bilateral negotiations as shall be necessary on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, leading to the execution of the Government-to-Government Agreement with the Russian Federation and the Afreximbank.

While it will also provide all relevant technical and other inputs necessary to close the Government-to-Government negotiations, the team is to ensure that the best extreme possible, all relevant raw materials are sourced locally, bearing in mind the local content provisions and the Presidential Executive Order 005.

Other tasks set before the team are to scrutinize and assemble Nigerian Content Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), Special Purpose Vehicle Contractors which will embody the Co-Concessionaire representing Nigeria’s interest in the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Concession;

“Ensure the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel Plant (ASP) based on the original design, and ensure timely commissioning of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant (ASP) within a reasonable period to be agreed upon by the parties to the agreement and recommend primary tenure of a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Concession.”

The membership of the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Implementation Team (APPIT) include the Minister of Mines and Steel Development who would serve as alternate Chairman, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, as well as Mr Gabriel Aduda, a Permanent Secretary in the Office of the SGF.
Others are the Sole Administrator, Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd, Sole Administrator, National Iron Ore Mining Company, Engr. Vincent Dogo, Prof. Elegba S.B., Dr. Godwin Adeogba (the trio being Industry Experts), Director-General, ICRC and Director Steel, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

Some residents of Lokoja, kogi state, where the project is sited expressed delight over the inauguration of the team.

” The Federal government must be given kudos for its unrelenting efforts to ensure that AJaokuta steel project, which has been on for almost 40 years becomes a reality, this time around.

“No doubt, the completion of this project will go along way in solving so many social and economic problems confronting Nigeria.

“Most of the youths roaming the streets in Kogi and Nigeria in general will be gainfully employed, and this will arrest unemployment as well as youth restivenesd to a great extent,” Mr Mathew Oguche told Duaglobalnews in an interview.

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