A group, under the auspice of Ajaokuta Steel Township Youth Vanguard for Development, has called on Kogi state Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the national assembly and the incoming president – elect to put an immediate halt on the last minute galloping rush by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to concession Ajaokuta steel and Itakpe National Iron Mining companies.
The coordinator of the group, Comrade Ismaila Nasiru, stated this at a press conference held in Lokoja on Thursday.
Nasiru lamented that at the twilight of the expiration of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the Ministry of Mines and steel development has advertised the concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company limited and National Iron Mining Itakpe both in Kogi state.
The youth leader who expressed concern over the late hour decision of the ministry, warned against a repeat of the SOLGAS & OIL disasters where litigations almost ends all effort to complete and operationalize the steel company.
He stated that “Just this 21st April, the ministry of mines and steel development put up an international and local advertisement on the concessioning of Ajaokuta steel.
“The advert gave only 20 days time threshold for local and international interested companies to respond with detailed offers (not just expression of interest)
“First major issue here is that the 20 days threshold given for response is not only grossly inadequate for any serious pre-bidding preparations and bill drafting by contenders for a gigantic company like Ajaokuta, but it is clearly at variance and in breach of infrastructural concession regulatory commission (ICRC) that specifies six weeks for tender advert and responses.
“The 20 days response will deny bidders the time to access and factor critical information and data in there proposals, such as information:Info of technical status of Itakpe and what is the availability, cost and logistics needs on other necessary raw materials such as dolomite, local coal, lime stone, clay etc. balance of other rail networks to link with those other minerals and a deep sea port to shore in cocable – coal imports.
“Within 20 days bidders have no time to conduct and inform themselves into even the bearest to technical audit of the steel plant. Also Bidders within 20 days are compelled to blindly bid, not factoring environmental impact Assessment nor the existing staff level and quality in the plant.
“Within 20 days blindfolded from all of the critical information/ideas listed above bidders can not realistically bid for the steel plant nor will their bids reflect in any meaningful way, the realities of a steel plant that cost the nation over $4billion.
“Seven hundred million naira (700,000,000) of scarce Nigerian tax payers money is paid or being paid to a concession transaction adviser to reach out to bidders, assemble and process the bids to successful end result.
“It took the ministry more than six months to sort out just the “transaction adviser”. How then can the transaction adviser or their employer allocate just 20 days to put together the best bidders from all over the world on an over $4 billion steel plant”
To avoid the repeat of the past and another irreparable damage on the steel companies, the Youth leader urged that National Assembly to as a matter of urgency ordered for an immediate halt of the current concession bidding in the interest of Nigerians and the country.
He also urged the incoming administration of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu to revert to the earlier bill approved by both arms of the national assembly for Government to fully fund, complete and operationalize Ajaokuta steel company first and privatize the companies at premium prices after.
“Alternatively, the transaction advisers should still be halted right away by the national assembly due to the huge sum already paid to them and if the new in-coming government consider the Transaction adviser credible, they can retain them but but on a new agenda, restrict bidding to only operators of large steel plants with records of successful operation.