FG Indicts Obasanjo Over Sale Of Multi-Billion Dollars Ajaokuta Steel Company
The federal government has openly accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of breaching due process in the sale of some public assets especially the multi- billion dollars Ajaokuta Steel complex. This is coming barely 24 hours after the former Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Nasir El-Rufai accused Obasanjo of the same offense.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Mohammed Musa Sada who spoke in Abuja Friday while testifying before the Senate Ad-hoc Committee investigating the activitfrom of the BPE said that former President Obasanjo approved the concession of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex to Global infrastructure limited against due process.
The minister also regretted that the federal government now spends N3.6 billion annually to pay workers of the moribund Steel Company.
His indictment of Obasanjo was also reinforced by the Director General of the BPE, Ms Bolanle Onagoruwa who added that the approval of the concession of the company by Obasanjo was in violation of the BPE Act.
The Minister also told the committee that Global Infrastructure ruined the Ajaokuta complex by stripping it of all valuable equipment and machineries, leading to the cancellation of the entire process by the federal government.
According to him, “The concession of Ajaokuta steel goes back to 2003 when the first company Solgas was chosen. I agreed with the BPE because I saw it in the letter that the ministry was the sole organization for driving the concession agreement.
“It was actually an inter-ministerial committee of the then Ministry of Power and Steel, Finance and Justice and BPE, which participated as a member of the committee. One thing, I have no record of any of the minutes of that meeting to show that these are the deliberations taken.
“A letter was then raised by the then Minister of Power and Steel to the President, requesting the President’s approval to cancel the concession to Solgas and start discussion and conclude with another company Isfat, which is the mother company of Global Infrastructure. The President gave that approval.
“At a point in time, there was a share purchase agreement signed by the BPE. It was signed but never put into use, and I could not find any reason anywhere why it was not use. And the reason why the ministry was driving that process as against the BPE is something I am not privy to.
“But all I know is that there seems to be a tripod agreement between the companies that is interested, the presidency and the ministry. I think this is the tripod that seems to be moving BPE is just following along when discussions are being done. In a nut shell this is the situation. But as of now that concession has already been terminated because of certain findings by government. A committee was setup which found out so many illegal things been done by Global holding running Ajaokuta. It was cancelled.”
On the huge funds being spent monthly to pay the company’s workers, Sada noted that the federal government pays N300 million per month to the workers while only N650 million is required to bring the company up to a production level where it can generate funds to sustain itself.
In his words, “We need a meager N650 million to fix the complex to a level where it will be raising money to pay the workers there, but government is spending N300 million per month on workers salary for doing nothing.”
While lamenting that the privatization exercise begun by Obasanjo has failed in the steel sector, he stressed that “All I will want to say is that I want to concur with everybody that the privatization of the steel sector which I am very familiar with is in a sorry state. We have not been able to move forward. The sole purpose of privatization is to drive value , generate wealth employment and be able to take the country forward.”