Ajaokuta Steel: Fayemi, Bwari unfit to be ministers a�� Reps

By Samuel Ogidan, Gift Chapi Odekina and John Okeke
Members of the House of Representatives have passed a vote of no confidence on the Minister of Mines and Steel, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and the Minister of State for Mines and Steel, Abubakar Bawa Bwari.
Their offence was failing to honour the lawmakers’ invitation to an investigation of the moribund state of the gigantic Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State.
The lawmakers, who expressed their anger over the ministera��s action, said it was contempt of the House and sabotage for boycotting the sectoral debate organised by the House.
The ministers, who were invited by the lawmakers at the instance of the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, to the session on how to address the deplorable state of Ajaokuta plant, gave excuses through a letter from the permanent secretary for their absence.
The ministers through a letter signed by Abubakar Muazu, Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals, dated February 27, 2018, with reference No: MMSD/S/BUDG2017, explained that they had prior official engagements.
The letter read: “The Honourable Minister, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and his counterpart, the Honourable Minister for State, Honourable Abubakar Bawa Bwari, are slated for official engagements during the scheduled period of the debate.
“The Honourable Minister has prior diplomatic schedule engagement in preparation to the focal labs of ERGP relating to the mining sectors while the Minister of State will be leading the ministrya��s delegation to Canada to attend the PDAC Conference.”
Dogara, who relied them through a letter, pointed out that the debate would have given the ministry and it officials the opportunity to debunk the allegations that the proposed concessionaires had tied their hands.
The Speaker’s letter read in part: “In your letter under reference, you said that the two ministers in the ministry would not honour the invitation due to prior commitments.
“We think that the debate presents an opportunity for the ministry to debunk the widespread allegations that the proposed concessionaires have tied the hands of the ministry.
“We are worried that the apparent boycott of the session by your ministry can only lend credence to the allegations that the top echelons of your ministry are deeply conflicted in the matter.”
Shortly after the Speaker read his opening remarks, the lawmakers called on Dogara to sanction the ministers to serve as deterrent to others, who might want to take the parliament for granted.
The lawmakers said that the sectoral debate had nothing to do with politics, but the interest of the nation.
The Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who moved a motion for the House to transit from sectoral debate to investigative hearing, stated that it would have given the ministry the opportunity to clear the air.
Even though the House kicked against the proposed investigative hearing, Hon. Gbajabiamila said that boycotting the debate was an assault to common sense, noting that one of the ministers was a product of the chamber.
Hon. Alhassan Ado Dogowa urged the Speaker to take decisive action against the ministers, as their absence was suspicious, lamenting that the President appointed ministers, who are insensitive to the plight of the pepole.
According to him, “there is no All Progressives Congress (APC) or the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) here, we should declare emergency here.”
The interest of this country should come first, Hon. Yakubu Barde said, adding that the failure of the ministers to honour the invitation should not be taken lightly.
Hon. Zaikari Mohammed, who called on the House to withhold the ministry’s budget, said: “The only way we can check this people is not to look at their budget until they honour our invitation. We can order for their arrest. There is conspiracy of silence. We must investigate them.”
Hon. Gbajabiamila, who amended his motion, called for the passing of no confidence vote on the ministers, which was seconded by Hon. Ayo Omidiran and was unanimously endorsed by the House.
Before his ruling, the Speaker, who noted that the sole administrator of Ajaokuta Steel, Abdul-Akaba Sumaila, was also not available, said, “it appears this is a total boycott.”
Fayemi replies Reps on no confidence vote
In a swift reaction, Fayemi described the action “unwarranted and unfortunate.”
In a statement by his media aide Olayinka Oyebode, the minister argued that their inability to attend the debate was communicated to the House.
He wondered why the House took such a draconian stance against the two ministers who have very cordial relationships with the National Assembly.

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