Experts in the steel industry have kicked against the Federal Government’s option to engage a British firm to revive Ajaokuta Steel Company.
The stakeholders on Thursday in Abuja said using a British firm to revive Ajaokuta steel would cause more problems on the company.
They said TyazhpromExport (TPE), a Russian company started the foundation and construction of the steel company in 1978 to its current stage, adding that engaging a British company to complete the project was not the best option.
The experts were reacting to a recent announcement made by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, that a British company would be engaged to complete Ajaokuta steel company.
Adegbite had at a recent ministerial media briefing in the Villa said that the option to use British firm to revive the steel company “for free”, the decision came after the outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine.
The minister also said that the arrangements with the Russian firm failed because the contract was awarded to a company with both Russian and Ukrainian interests.
The minister had in 2020 said that a 60-man team from Russia would arrive in Nigeria to start technical audit of Ajaokuta steel.
The agreement on how to revive the steel company was reached during a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Vladimir Putin in Russia in 2019 at the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi.
The Russian government had nominated TPE, the original builder of Ajaokuta Steel Company, to conduct technical audit of the steel company to ascertain the level of work remaining to be completed on the steel company.
Prof. Benjamin Adewuyi, the former President, Nigeria Metallurgical Society (NMS) said engaging a British firm to revive the steel company “is as good as burying the company forever”.
Adewuyi said that every work done on the steel company were handled by the Russia engineers only and all core equipment used for the project were provided by the same Ressian company.
The Don said that Ajaoluta steel may end up being cannibalised the same way the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) in Itakpe, kogi was cannibalised by the contractor that it was awarded to for services.
” We know what happened at NIOMCO, how it was cannibalised by the contractor that the project was awarded to, the contractor went away with valuable equipment belonging to the company.
” Handing Ajaokuta steel company to a British firm is just like handing over our big asset to them to incur more problems on the company.
” A Russian company, the original builder of the Ajaokuta steel knows the nitty – gritty of the project and how to revive the steel company,
“Why engaging a British firm, did the Russian firm say it is not coming to revive Ajaokuta steel again?
“Agreement is agreement, has Russia cancelled the agreement it signed with the Nigeria government in 2019 to take the audit report of the company and complete the steel plant?
“The fact is that there are some “so called Nigerians” that are not in line with the agreement, the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine should not be used as an excuse on Ajaoluta revival,” he said.
The British firm turn around maintenance and installations done by the Russians from the onset with all units and component up till manual written in Russian language?
Russian firm took pre-emptive measures to ensure everything around the steel company is through them and them only; the entire schematics have Russian inscriptions and manuals and operators needed to be solely trained by Russians to operate them.
The core operational resources used in the production chain line could only be supplied by the Russian; no other nation on earth has these highly specialised resources and components.
Mr Ocheri Cyril, the Publicity Secretary of NMS, said engaging a British firm to revive the company might compound more problems on the moribund Industry.
“I was not surprised to hear that Ajaokuta steel will not be completed as promised by the Federal government.
“It is a pity that a gigantic investment such as Ajaokuta steel company that the foundation was laid in 1978 on 24,000 hectares has gone through several set back under past administrations.
” The company suffered under Obasanjo administrations when it was concessioned to Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited (GINL), an India company.
“The concession generated lots of problem whereby the company sued Nigeria government in court of abitration in London, I guess the case is still pending.”
He advised the Federal government to leave the steel company in it current form, instead of using British company to distabilised it in the name of reviving it.
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