President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, to act quickly to ensure that all issues preventing the operation of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex are resolved to enable it to go into full operation as soon as possible.
The vice president, who revealed this on Tuesday while performing the ground-breaking ceremony of the N2.2 billion 11-storey Kogi House in Abuja, said the president gave him the order in his capacity as the Chairman of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).
He, therefore, assured the people of Kogi State, where the project is located, that the company would be resuscitated and run in full capacity soon, especially as “all encumbrances militating against the project have been removed.”
Sambo also promised that the Warri-Itakpe railway line would be extended to Kaduna when the ongoing Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge rail line is completed as part of government’s plan to make the Ajaokuta Steel Complex a viable project.
The vice president noted that the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kogi House, located in the Central Business District of Abuja, was a further testimony of the good working relationship between the state and the Federal Government.
He expressed delight that the project was being implemented 20 years after the land was first allocated to the state.
Sambo appealed to other state governments to emulate the state’s example in infrastructure development, as he assured Governor Idris Wada of the Federal Government’s continued cooperation with Kogi State in socio-economic development efforts.
Sambo said: “I am aware that the land was allocated to the Kogi State government for over twenty years running but that your administration took the bull by the horn to develop it in order to harness and generate revenue and improve the economy of your state.
“It is most interesting to note your economic and financial innovation in funding the development of this 11-storey edifice via a public private partnership model.
“I will seize this opportunity to invite other state governments to emulate this strategy in achieving our objective of providing important infrastructural facilities for the benefit of our citizens.
“This is indeed a giant stride by your administration, which will go a long way to not only improve the status but also the fortunes of the state. It will also add permanently to the asset base of the state,” Sambo observed.
In his remarks at the occasion, Governor Wada noted that the start of the implementation of the project is another feather in the cap of his administration in the effort to develop the state.
He observed that Kogi State had fully embraced the transformation agenda of the federal government in all ramifications, particularly In the area of agricultural, infrastructure development and housing.
He said the 11-storey Kogi House would create employment opportunities and make a positive contribution towards the development of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Wada revealed that the project will be executed through Public Private Partnership under an arrangement where the state will provide 80 per cent of the funds while the rest will come from the private sector, with the project having a completion period of 14 months.
The governor said the money will be raised from its N20 billion bond beginning with a first tranche of N5 billion.
Also speaking, former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmadu Ali, described the groundbreaking ceremony as historic with the presence of former Kogi State governor, Prince Abubakar Audu, at the event, urging the former governor, who is a chieftain of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), to return to the PDP where he said the former governor would always be welcome.