Natasha AKpoti Takes On President Buhari For Rejecting Ajaokuta Steel Company Bill

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The Kogi Central senatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Natasha Akpoti has expressed displeasure over the rejection of the Ajaokuta Steel Company bill by President Muhammadu Buhari.

President Buhari recently rejected a bill to urgently fund the Ajaokuta Steel Company that will see to its competition.

Ms Akpoti who is foremost in fighting for the completion of the company wondered how the President would claim to have money for other projects but saying there is no money for industrialisation.

The full text of Apkoti’s first reaction message read:

Ajaokuta Steel Bill: The content – Part 1

For the first time in history, 301 Legislators collectively sponsored a bill to fund a speedy completion of Ajaokuta Steel Project (Attached)

The National Assembly saw this project as a critical economic aid in eradicating poverty by creating thousands of jobs & generating revenue for Kogi State and Nigeria at large.

The amount recommended was $1b.

The application of the money was amongst others for construction, improvement, extension, acquisitions & compensation of host community lands etc.

Additionally, the money was to cover surveys, research and preparatory investigations inter alia.

The DISBURSEMENT of the FUNDS was to be applied by the MINISTER of Solid Minerals.

That upon completion and successful operation of Ajaokuta Steel Complex, if the Federal Government insisted on its concession, the law on privatization shall be followed judiciously to avoid illegal pitfalls thereby shortchanging the country .

Most importantly is the 6 months imprisonment option for anyone who commits an offense against the completion of Ajaokuta Steel company by going contrary to the provisions of the completion bill.

However, President Buhari’s rejected the bill for the following reasons:

1. Ajaokuta Steel Project is not important enough… NOW.

He wrote :

“appropriating $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account is NOT THE BEST STRATEGIC option for Nigeria at this time of budgetary constraints, and the nation cannot afford to commit such an amount amid COMPETING PRIORITIES”.

Bare in mind Nigeria is building a $2 billion refinery in Katsina getting crude all the way from Niger 🇳🇪.

Nigeria is also undergoing a $3 billion seismic expedition in search from oil in Lake Chad basin & other areas.

We are also seeking to fund a $12 billion rail project from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri

The Federal Government recently took $1 billion for the purchase of military equipments to fight Biko Haram (meanwhile our armies are complaining of having obsolete or no ammunitions) .

So I think PMB is right, we have so many other more important projects of competing priorities than to industrialize Nigeria.

Our PMB added that :

2. “the Excess Crude Account funds belong to the Federation, it would be proper to consult with the National Economic Council and the States and relevant stakeholders; the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment were not fully consulted. The inputs of key stakeholders are necessary to create the optimal legal and regulatory framework as well as the institutional mechanism to adequately regulate the steel sector,”.

Meaning :

The Excess Crude Account belongs to Nigerians and the deliberations by the entire National Assembly (306 Representatives and 109 Senators), in addition to several public hearings and brainstorming sessions by Ad -Hoc committee on Ajaokuta’s revival which had the Ministers, Professional and host communities stakeholders in attendance was not good enough.

I shall make my concluding observations in my next post.

Have a good evening
Natasha H Akpoti
The People’s Senator

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