The refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari, to assent to the bill seeking the revitalization of Ajaokuta Steel Complex, is now subject of discuss across board.
This time around, acegist takes the reaction of Hon. Benjamin Ikani Okolo, member representing Dekina/ Biraidu Federal House of representative.
In his reaction, he makes his position and recommendations known as he writes an open letter to Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello.
Let us read what he has to say;
” Your Excellency,
Alh. Yahaya Adoza Bello,
The Executive Governor of Kogi state.
I hope you could do something very important and urgent to help the case of Ajaokuta Steel company before it gets too late.
I feel a sense of duty as a potential son of Kogi State to send this communication to you with a view to rendering my candid advice to you and your government considering the precarious conditions of Kogi people in relation to the moribund status of Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Recall that sometime in the month of March of 2018, I was on the entourage of the Honorable Speaker, Yakubu Dogara to the company at Ajaokuta with other legislators at the lower chamber of the National Assembly alongside the members of the House of Representatives committee on Steel which is chaired by one of our own, Hon. Idris representing Ajaokuta Federal Constituency.
In the course of this visit, we stopped over at your office and you graciously welcomed us and treated us to some sumptuous meals.
While on the table, a couple of issues were raised with you on the specific need for you to be not only a part of the revolutionary move to get Ajaokuta Steel company working again but to also serve as a pivotal voice in view of your supposed relationship with the president.
Though, you differ in the mode of interventions that should be adopted to get the moribund company working again for the benefits of Kogi and Nigerians.
At the end of the deliberations you were convinced on the need to be a part of the strong voices on this very important project.
However, without regard to the ensuing events leading to the making of the bill which Mr. President has refused to assent to, mentions were made of a couple of power plays and interests that were jostling for control of this company.
You might have been incensed by some of the commentaries or revelations so called but I like to draw your attention to the fact that refusing to speak for the revamping of this company will surely rob off on your integrity and your sincerity will be in doubt with specific reference to this company taking into cognizance not only the viability of this massive company but also the humongous opportunities that the company provides for our people and Nigerians at large.
Your Excellency, take an action now!
As a governor of State which stands to enjoy a huge measure of comparative advantage once the company gets working again, I feel in is incumbent on you to be up and running to ensure that the bill is reworked upon and sent back to the president for his assent.
You must not rest on this, Your Excellency.
I am putting this on your table because the 9th Assembly would witness the Inauguration of seven (7) members (temporary) of your party and that is a dominant number to push for the resuscitation of the bill and Hon. Idris must be given a charge in this respect.
I hope there will not be contrary advice.
This is not to be embroiled in the politics of Kogi but a task that you must achieve.
Your Excellency, no excuse should be tenable or cogent to dissuade you from pushing for the revamping of this huge opportunity for Kogi and Nigerians.
I listened to Mr. Adesina alluding to the fact that government does not have that kind of money to invest in the revival of Ajaokuta Steel company.
Remember that in 2018, the sum of 1billion dollars was approved to be drawn from the excess crude account for the purpose of fighting insurgency in the northeast.
Though, one is not happy that insurgency is not decimated completely to it roots as it stands today despite the huge monies being expended in the fight against the monstrous group.
From the available records, the Excess crude account is standing at 44 billion dollars and I think 1billion out of it for a tangible and conspicuously economically beneficial program like the revamping of Ajaokuta Steel must not be seen to be a waste of resources.
The best succor to the terrorists is gainful employments.
Ajaokuta has capacities of employing ten thousand (10,000) graduates at that point of commencement.
The unskilled people are not included in these records.
It is capable of employing Fifty thousand(50,000) skilled people when fully operational.
A responsible government should not undermine such a great opportunity with which ominous issues such as terrorism, kidnapping, armed banditry, prostitution, thuggery etc which are demonstrable evidence of unemployment can be addressed.
Your Excellency, take this historic step.
Finally sir, during the visit we all realized from the testimonies of the Chairman and directors of the company that the Steel is in good conditions and when we took tours of the plants, it was discovered with pains, that a national asset was abandoned and you alluded to this fact during your remarks at the closed session with stakeholders.
The National Assembly did not do anything outside the suggestions from the interactive session which you were an integral part and any other opinions expressed therein were drawn from the submissions of the experts who were drawn from across Nigeria with massive knowledge of how the company can be brought to life again.
There are people in government who will surely work against the resuscitation of this huge national asset.
Remember, the then minister of Steel who is a governor in Ekiti State today and the then minister of finance turned down the invitation of the House of Representatives to participate in the sectoral debate.
The House wanted the minister of finance to brief the House and indeed Nigerians if there was any alternative source(s) of funds for the project in order that the House might be guided in drafting and debating the bill.
The House also wanted to hear from the Minister of Steel if there was any other encumbrance outside the resolved legal issue.
The House in it wisdom took the positions enunciated in the bill based on what it felt was in the national interest.
I do hope I am not misconstrued on this.
Thank you so much, Your Excellency! ”
Hon. Benjamin Ikani Okolo
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