By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The Federal Government has inaugurated the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Implementation Team (APPIT) aimed at economic diversification agenda of President Buhari Led-Administration.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, is the Chairman of the Implementation Team.
Equally, the Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, is the Alternate Chairman.
Performing the inauguration, the SGF said the government desires to create opportunities for the development of national global capacity, especially, in the area of industrialisation within a diversified economy.
“The Ajaokuta Steel plant have languished in economic unproductivity for about four decades and previous efforts at reviving it had proved abortive. This has resulted in avoidable massive foreign exchange losses at intolerable opportunity cost to the country. The pressing need to redress these avoidable challenges has necessitated this Presidential intervention at this time. This is further underscored by difficulties being witnessed with present challenges in the global oil industry.
He stressed the importance of the Ajaokuta steel plant to the country and explained that it presents a unique opportunity to make it to become West Africa’s largest fully integrated producer and most importantly, to accelerate industrialisation in steel related industries.
He noted that the government places a lot of value on the diversification of the economy, hence, President Buhari’s participation at the Russia/Africa summit in Sochi, Russia, wherefore, the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta steel plant with its Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.
The Chairman pointed out that the Ajaokuta Steel Project is ‘’to be resuscitated on the basis of a Government-to-Government agreement with funding from the Afrexim bank 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.
“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.”
He said the team Terms of Reference (TOR) include the following; 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; Provide all relevant technical and other inputs necessary to close the Government-to-Government negotiations; 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; 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.
Other members of the APPIT are the Permanent Secretary, Mines and Steel Development, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Solicitor-General of the Federation/
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Justice, Mr. Gabriel Aduda, Sole Administrator, Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd.
Others are the Sole Administrator, National Iron Ore Mining Co. Member
ix. Engr. Vincent Dogo (Industry Expert), Prof. Elegba S.B. (Industry Expert), Dr. Godwin Adeogba (Industry Expert), Director-General, ICRC and Director Steel; MMSD.
Earlier, the Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, gave the background to the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta steel project and noted that the series of event has been long in coming but emphasised that “it is better later than never.”