The minister of state for solid minerals, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, has said that more than 7 foreign firms are jostling for the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited.
He said that while the federal government is committed to working with any company serious to revive the steel plant, there is the need for them to be careful as they are inundated with various demands by different companies who had shown interest.
Speaking in an exclusive telephone chat with LEADERSHIP recently, the minister assured that the present government was being careful to avoid past mistakes made in a bid to refurbish and revive the steel complex.
The minister revealed to LEADERSHIP that “more than 7 companies from China, India, and Ukraine, among others, had expressed interest to complete the steel plant, adding that “even Nigerians have come out to say that they have partners and investors interested in completing the project.”
He, however, reiterated that government was being careful not to repeat the same mistake of sinking money into a project that did not yield revenue commensurate to the investment.
“We are being very careful not to make any mistakes and waiting till we are able to vet all proposals before a technical team. Also, we would involve the government of these countries to certify the companies before sitting down to discuss with the firms. This time around we want to be very careful but are willing to associate and discuss with those interested in completing the steel complex,” Bwari said.
He further stated that while the government was being careful in committing to any company, they will also “give conditions and only those companies that are able to meet the conditions will be considered for further discussions.” He lamented that so much had been spent for the revival of plant in the past with nothing commensurate coming out of it.
“The federal government spends N4 billion annually to maintain the steel plants and its workers, but we cannot continue with that,” he said.
Responding to a statement in which the minister, Dr Kayode Fayemi, had said that “government does not have the money to sink into Ajaokuta Steel Complex, the minister of state clarified that what the minister meant was that “with dwindling revenues we cannot put in so much in running Ajaokuta when we have other challenges.”
He assured that the government was being careful to vet and ensure that companies interested in reviving the complex visit it and if their proposals remain the same after the visit, they can then sit and discuss.
The minister assured that it was their intention that before the expiration of their tenure, half or the whole of the company will be working.
“It is our intention is to see that at least half of the Ajaokuta Steel Company will begin to work. When it does, it can generate power,” Bwari stated.
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