By HENRY UMORU
ABUJA — CHAIRMAN, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory Committee, Senator Smart Adeyemi (PDP, Kogi West), yesterday, said President Goodluck Jonathan has recovered the dead Ajaokuta Steel Complex in Kogi State from Global Steel Holdings Limited.
The move came six years after the company had remained non-functional.
Adeyemi noted that the development and bringing back the company to full operation will provide at least 10, 000 jobs, not only for Kogi State indigenes but also, neighbouring states.
Speaking to newsmen, the lawmaker, who said the Federal Government was in the process of negotiating the return of the Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, also in Kogi State, said, “The Federal Government has recovered the Ajaokuta steel complex from Global Steel and with that more than 10,000 workers would be gainfully employed.
“I think the return of this complex is worth celebrating. The government of President Jonathan is worth celebrating. They should be commended for recovering the complex. They have succeeded in recovering Ajaokuta without any attendant financial obligation whatsoever.
“This is a great achievement that deserves commendation, irrespective of political affiliation. The return of Ajaokuta will reduce unemployment and crime. By this singular achievement, it means this government has raised the hope for industrial development in Nigeria
“We got to know that Global Steel asked for $1 billion damages but the concession was illegal and unlawful. I want Nigerians to know that the Federal Government has been in arbitration with the International Chamber of Commerce since the concession was terminated in 2007. The case started in 2008.
“The two plants have not been functioning since they were privatized and I want to let you know that the meeting that resolved the issue was held in Dubai between April 29 to May 1.
“Ajaokuta is at the heart of technological development in Nigeria. If we can get the complex back, then, it means Nigeria’s march towards industrialization has started on a good path. Return of Ajaokuta means that this will change the face of Kogi Stats and hopefully, the northern region”.
“The federal government may revalidate the concession with Global Steel. I’m happy that the main plant is back to Nigeria.”
It will be recalled that the Federal Government had been locked in arbitration with Global Steel Holdings Limited and Global Infrastructure Limited at the International Chamber of Commerce, London, for the return of Ajaokuta since 2007.
The legal tussle started in 2008 when Global Steel dragged the federal government before the ICC, even as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke led the federal government delegation.
Ajaokuta was thereafter sold to Global Steel during the administration of former President Olusegun under the privatisation Programme of the Federal Government then and after that, allegations of downsizing and asset-stripping came up before it finally shut down operations.
But President Goodluck Jonathan was said to have intervened and the federal government regained total control of the steel company and with this, Global Steel agreed to forfeit hefty $1b initially being demanded as damages allegedly suffered by the company while running the two plants.