The sum of $1.4 billion is needed to complete the Ajaokuta Steel Company, a House of Representatives panel heard yesterday.
Out of the amount, $625 million will be for the revival of the main steel plant, while $800m would be for external infrastructure for the complex, the ad-hoc committee on the revival of the steel company headed by House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila heard further.
The sole administrator of the company, Samaila Abdul-Akaba, told the panel during an investigative hearing in Abuja that the estimated amount was based on a technical audit.
He said there is only 2 percent of the internal work to be completed for the company to work efficiently.
He added that the audit report was ready for presentation to President Muhammadu Buhari next week.
“Ajaokuta is a viable project; the machineries are of the highest quality. The facility requires replacement of parts which were not installed. I think Nigeria now has the political will to start Ajaokuta; we don’t have a choice,” he said.
In a presentation, the Minister of State for Mines and Steel, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, told the panel that the ministry did not make provision for the completion of the company in the budget due to past experience.
He said they were told that $8bn was spent on the company in the past without any good result, hence the resolve to concession it.
“Even if the two percent was completed today, government could still not operate it because there are no Nigerians to run it,” the minister said.
But the lawmakers were not satisfied by the minister’s response, wondering why the current government could not take the revival of Ajaokuta Steel Company seriously.
They said the issue of concession could not go ahead as a bill recently passed by the House made it mandatory for the company to be removed from the list of government organizations to be concession.
Consequently, the lawmakers said President Buhari should spare some time to visit the company for a self-assessment in order to take a decisive action.