Opposition is mounting against Indian firm, Global Infrastructure Holding Ltd. (GIHL) bid takeover of the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe, Kogi State.
GIHL recently won the re-concession of Itakpe Iron Ore Company conducted by the current administration.
Under the auspices of Metallurgical Stakeholders Forum, a group is urging the Federal Government to cancel the re-concession of the mining company to the foreign firm on ground of incompetence.
The group, which made the call at a news conference in Abuja, comprised the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Nigerian Metallurgical Society, African Iron and Steel Association, Host Community, and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), among others.
According to report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Sanusi Mohammed, executive secretary-general of the African Iron and Steel Association, and convener of the news conference, is arguing that the Federal Government should cancel the concession agreement considering that the Indian company lacks the competence, trust as well as the ability to manage NIOMCO.
He said that Nigeria was short-changed by the Indian company, as it vandalised Ajaokuta steel company and carted away valuable assets from NIOMCO.
“We have written several letters to the Federal Government on the need to cancel the agreement but to no avail. So we decided to come together to covey the same message through the media today,’’ Sanusi said.
Citing the case of Delta Steel Company (DSC), he said that the Federal Government concessioned and later sold the company built with 1.5 billion dollars in 2005 to GHIL at a paltry 30 million dollars. Till date the DSC is still in shambles.
Sanusi said the five-man administrative panel of inquiry set up by the Federal Government in 2007 revealed the rot that was perpetrated on Delta Steel Company.
“GHIL in the period of operation in DSC stripped the company down and accumulated more than N40 billion debt it collected from Nigerian banks as it used the company as collateral,’’ Sanusi noted, adding that the re-concession of NIOMCO did not go down well with stakeholders as the Federal Government did not involve them.
“This is not acceptable to all the metallurgical stakeholders.’’
It would be recalled that the Ajaokuta Steel Company was concessioned to GHIL between 2004 and 2005 by then President Olusegun Obasanjo. However, the Indian firm did not live up to expectations as it could not manage the company.
Following the failure of GHIL to manage the company, the Federal Government under late President Umaru Yar’Adua was compelled to revoke the contract.
However, the President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government reconcessioned NIOMCO to GHIL, while still taking of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
According to the stakeholders, NIOMCO did not only witnessed poor performance, but also non-compliance of post-acquisition plan (PAP) in terms of injection of funds, while being operated by GHIL.
Also speaking, David Esezobor of Extractive Metallurgical and Materials Processing, urged the Federal Government to pursue a clear vision as well as clear policies and roadmap to ensure development of the iron and steel sector.
Esezobor said that government should remove all obstacles militating against the growth and development of the sector.
He urged the government not to privatise Ajaokuta Steel Company, till the remaining two percent and other external infrastructure were completed.
Esezobor said that any attempt to commercialise or privatise the company would not yield the desired result for Nigerians.
He also urged the government to re-establish contact and to initiate negotiation with the original builder of Ajaokuta Steel Company, TPE, a Russian company to complete the company.
He also noted that the Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and Alhaji Musa Bello, a Kaduna based entrepreneur were laying claim to NIOMCO, adding that they both had registered the company with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).