Six years in limbo, President Goodluck Jonathan has recovered the Ajaokuta Steel Complex in Kogi State from Global Steel Holdings Limited.
In addition, the federal government is in the process of negotiating the return of the Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, also in Kogi State. Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory Committee, Senator Smart Adeyemi disclosed this to newsmen at a press conference yesterday.
The Senator expressed optimism that revamping the steel company would provide at least 10, 000 jobs, not only for Kogi State natives but also residents of neighbouring states as well.
The Federal Government has 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, it was learnt.
The legal tussle started in 2008 when Global Steel dragged the Federal Government before the ICC. Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke led the Federal Government delegation. Ajaokuta was sold to Global Steel during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo under the privatisation programme of the Federal Government then.
Shortly, thereafter, allegations of downsizing and asset-stripping rocked the complex before it finally shut down operations. But President Goodluck Jonathan has reportedly intervened and the Federal Government has regained total control of the steel company.
Global Steel agreed to forfeit $1billion initially being demanded as damages allegedly suffered by the company while running the two plants. According to Adeyemi: “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 main 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 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 State and hopefully, the northern region.
On the negotiated return of the Iron Ore company, Senator Adeyemi said: “The federal government may revalidate the concession with Global Steel. I’m happy that the main plant is back to Nigeria.”