Reps allege dirty dealings in plan to concession Ajaokuta steel firm
•Fayemi, Bwari avoid sectoral debate
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday accused the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and the Minister of State, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, of spearheading the move to concession Ajaokuta Steel Company at a giveaway price to achieve selfish desires.
Dogara’s position was prompted by the alleged refusal by the duo to appear before the House today to shed light on the reasons for non-completion of the steel complex, the concession of which does not go down well with the lawmakers.
Fayemi and Bwari, in their letter signed by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr. Abdulkadir Muazu, said they would not be available to interface with the lawmakers because they were slated to attend other official engagements.
“The minister has prior diplomatic schedule engagement in preparation for the focal labs of ERGP relating to the mining sector while the minister of state will be leading the ministry’s delegation to Canada to attend the PDAC conference,” the letter read.
But piqued by the development, Dogara, in his response dated February 28, said the conduct of the ministers spoke volume of the fact that there must be dirty dealings in the plan to concession the steel complex.
In a statement, his Chief of Staff, Mr. Jerry Manwe, said: “I am further directed to respectfully state that the House considers the attendance of one of the ministers in the ministry of crucial importance to its legislative intervention in the steel sector to ensure timely completion of the Ajaokuta steel plant, and consequently requests you to reconsider the apparent boycott of the House’s sectoral debate.
“We think that the debate presents an opportunity for the ministry to debunk the widespread allegation that the proposed concessionaires have tied the hands of the ministry.“We are worried that the apparent boycott of the session by your ministry can only lend credence to the allegations that the top echelon of your ministry are deeply conflicted in the matter.”
“In view of the cordial relationship that has always existed between the two ministers and the speaker and the institution of the House of Representatives, we urge you to take all reasonable measures to reinforce this relationship moreso that the session is widely advertised and will go on with or without your participation.”Dogara, who was on oversight visit to the steel complex penultimate week, vehemently opposed moves to concession it.
He was quoted as saying: “We are talking about collaboration. It is not about controlling anybody but bringing all the stakeholders to a table to agree that this is the project that we need to execute in the general interest, welfare and well being of our people and saying that wherever the money is, as a nation, we must find it.
“I believe the money is there. Right now, we are talking about building the power plant in the North East, it is going to consume hundreds and thousands tonnes of steel.
We are talking about Second Niger Bridge, do you know how many hundreds of thousands tonnes of steel it would consume? “So, are we going to send all this money abroad in other to buy steel when we know that with a fraction of that amount, we can complete this plant, supply all the steel that we need to complete this power plant in Ajaokuta and build the Second Niger Bridge? So this is the dilemma we are faced with as a nation. Our own resolve is that it must be completed, no matter where we will get the money.”
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