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Reps to FG: Use Abacha Loot to Revive Ajaokuta Steel Coy

The House of Representatives on Thursday urged the Federal Government to use the recovered Abacha loot to fund the Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State.

The resolution was sequel to the adoption of the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Ajaokuta Steel Company headed by Rep Idris Ahmed (APC-Plateau) at the plenary presided over by Deputy Speaker, Yussuf Lasun, in Abuja.

The lawmakers said that since it was known that most of the Abacha loot was gotten from the deal involving Ajaokuta company, the recovered loot coming into the country should be used to supplement the funding for the completion of the integrated steel plant.

“The Federal Government should demonstrate a strong political will, just like the United States President did recently in their steel sector, to resuscitate the Ajaokuta Integrated Steel Plant by direct sourcing and disbursement of about $2 billion needed to revamp and complete the 2% external aspects of the Integrated project,” they said.

The legislators added that this should include “revival of Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Manufacturing Company, Itakpe; completion of the various external rail track system and access roads linkages; the development and optimal functioning of the various mining sites for steady supply of raw materials to guarantee an uninterrupted steel production when the blast furnace would be started.”

They urged the Federal Government, to as a matter of national interest and security, annul and terminate the recent re-concession agreement entered into with Global Infrastructure Nigeria Ltd (GINL) on August 1, 2016.

According to them, there is still an extant Federal Government indictment against the company (GINL).

”The Federal Government should cease from any further thought of concessioning and/or reconcessioning of the Nigerian steel companies as Nigeria has capable hands under the services of the Federal Republic to manage the integrated plants when properly funded.

”The Federal Government should renew relationship with the original builders of the company (TPE of Russia) toward wooing them back to continue and complete the good work they started alongside the current management team of indigenous sole administrators who have shown expertise and practical knowledge in the integrated steel plants management and production.

”The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should heed the presidential directive of late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2008, to prosecute all the collaborators of Global Infrastructures Nigeria Ltd. as economic saboteurs.

”Both the company, Global Infrastructures Nigeria Ltd, and all indicted local collaborators should be made to pay damages to the host communities that suffered loss of lives when the company used brutal force against the workers (most of whom were community youths) who tried to stop the company from stripping and vandalising the assets of the concessioned plants,” the lawmakers said.

They resolved that Global Infrastructures Nigeria Ltd. and its associates be banned from further doing any business in Nigeria ”as its track record has been marred by duplicity and fraud,” and also called for an accelerated legislative work by both chambers of the National Assembly towards ensuring “that both the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Manufacturing Company, Itakpe, are removed from the privatisation list.”

When Mr Lasun put the report to a voice vote, the lawmakers unanimously adopted it.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) under the project, “Monitoring of Recovered Assets in Nigeria rough Transparency and Accountability”(MANTRA), has paid an Advocacy Visit on the Benue State Cash Transfer Unit (SCTU) in Makurdi where they sought to strengthen partnerships in improving the lives of Nigerians.

The programmes officer, public finance management of CSJ, Mr Fidelis Onyejegbu, in an interview with newsmen shortly a er the meeting, said project MANTRA intends to monitor the disbursement of the US$322.5 million Abacha loot and other recovered loots under the Cash Transfer Programme of Federal Government social investment program, noting that policy dialogue with government agencies involved have already been carried out.

Onyejegbu said as a major advocate in the area of Public Finance management, good governance and policy reforms, CSJ was partnering with African Network for Environmental Justices(ANEEJ) and other Civil Society Organisations to see to the effective implementation of MANTRA in Nigeria.

He noted that project MANTRA was out to “make the public more aware and knowledgeable enough to hold government accountable on issues of recovery and management of looted assets. To enhance the capacity of CSOs and citizens to effectively monitor the use of the recovered $322.5 million Abacha loot, $900,000 Alamieyesiegha loot and other looted assets recovered.”

According to Onyejegbu, MANTRA as a subset of the Aniti-Corrupt in Nigeria (ACORN) is a project supported by the Department for international Development (DFID).

Speaking to our Correspondent shortly a er the visit, the acting head, Benue State Cash Transfer Unit, Mr Waghbo Emmanuel, said the state unit of the programme was partnering such organisations to ensure that the programme works for the benefit of the targeted Nigerians, which he said were the poorest of the poor in the country.

He acknowledged the rmness of the Federal Government in ensuring that the common wealth of Nigerians, which was recklessly swindled, be redirected to the peoples purse through the cash transfer and other related programmes of the Federal Government.

He commended the Benue State Government for its support in ensuring that the funds get to the targeted vulnerable citizens of the state as well as providing SCTU with office accommodation and staffing of the unit.

Representative of Angel Support Foundation, Terseer Bamber, Barr Justin Gbagir amongst other CSOs were part of the advocacy visit.

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