By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA — The Russian Federation has faulted local media reports alleging that it told the Nigerian government that the Russian company, TyazhPromExport TPE, which originally built the Ajaokuta Steel Complex was no longer interested in completing the steel mill.
Russia, consequently, affirmed the interest of TPE as willing technical partners to complete the steel mill.
Speaking at a book presentation, “Whither Nigeria” and a dinner to mark Prof. Pat Utomi’s 60th birthday in Lagos, Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had explained the rationale behind his decision to jettison the original builders of Ajaokuta Steel Complex, TyazhPromExport (TPE) of Russia.
He said the Russian ambassador had told him that the Russians were only interested in offering consultancy services to the steel mill.
But the minister’s revelation did not go down well with the Russian Embassy in Nigeria which in a statement responded on its website, affirming TPE’s readiness to send down a team of experts to conduct the needed technical evaluation before embarking on the resuscitation of the steel mill.
According to the embassy, the steel mill “is critically important to the industrial development of Nigeria.”
Entitled “Russian companies interested in Ajaokuta’s steel plant rehabilitation,” the statement said: “The Russian Embassy in Nigeria officially confirms that the original builder of Ajaokuta Steel Complex, Tyazhpromexport Company (TPE), is ready to re-engage in the process.”