The federal government yesterday said it paid $446m out of the $496m settlement claim to Global Steel Holdings Limited following the termination of a contract to resuscitate the Ajaokuta Steel Company. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this in Abuja during the 19th edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023), said the balance of $50 million would be paid next month.
He noted that Ajaokuta Steel Company was concessioned to Global Steel Industry in 2004 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration during which the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, was in charge of privatization programme.
The minister said, therefore, the promise by Atiku to resolve the problems facing Ajaokuta Steel Company was deceitful and borne out of desperation for power.
“That concession that turned out to be a mess was terminated by another PDP administration. Following the failed concession, the concessionaire, Global Steel Industry, took Nigeria to court, asking for $7 billion, and that case lingered for 12 years until the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari stepped in and the company finally settled for $496 million.
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“Out of the amount, we made a bulk payment of $250 million and agreed to pay the balance in five instalments. To date, we have paid a total of $446 million out of the $496 million. “We will make the last payment of $50 million next month and Ajaokuta will revert fully to us, ending the shameful and failed concession by the administration in which Alhaji Atiku Abubakar served as the VP.
“What I am saying in essence is that the problem facing Ajaokuta was the poorly-thought-out and poorly-executed concession by the regime in which Alhaji Atiku was vice president, and a regime under which he presided over the failed privatization programme.
“If the former vice president had any solution to the Ajaokuta challenge, and he didn’t execute it in 2004, why should Nigerians trust him to do so in 2023, almost 20 years later?”