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Kogi Monarchs, Akpoti-Uduaghan Echo Transparency, Restructuring, Collaboration



Natasha Akpoti

Traditional rulers from the Ebira ethnic group and Senator representing Kogi Central have agreed to work for the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe.

The monarchs in a letter to the President of the Senate, Chief Godswill Akpabio, urged Kogi State indigenes in the National Assembly to lay emphasis on the collective focus, interest and goal to making Ajaokuta Steel Plant work for the common good of Ebiraland, Kogi State and Nigeria in general.

The letter signed by the Ohi 0f Adavi, Eganyi, Ihima, Eika and Okene, Mohammed Bello, Musa Isah Achuja, Ahmed Abdulraheem, Umar Opewu and Isah Mamman maintained that the issue of Ajaokuta Steel Plant and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe must be handled with caution and statesmanship.

But quest for the resuscitation, according to stakeholders, must begin with a holistic investigation of the circumstances that led to the re-concession of NIOMCO even when the initial concession agreement was validly terminated by the YarAdua administration with positive review by the International Chamber of Commerce, London.

Senator representing Kogi Central, Chief Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan moved a motion to investigate alleged corruption and inefficiency at the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASL) and the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) .

She urged the Senate to investigate the affairs of Ajaokuta Steel and NIOMCO between 2008 to date.

Stakeholders are pushing for the investigation of the payment of $496 allegedly made to Mr Pramod Mittal, Chairman, Global Infrastructural Holdings LTD (GINL) by the Federal Government in September 2022 as settlement over said contractual disputes.

They are calling for a review of extant policies and laws on steel development in Nigeria, dissolution of the sole administratorship of Ajaokuta Steel Company and promotion of good corporate governance, efficiency and accountability by constituting a proper management and governing board for the company.

They want a structure that should comprise but not limited to a Managing Director, Director of Projects, Director of Finance, Director of Corporate Services with representatives from professional bodies such as society of engineers, Nigerian Metallurgical Society and representatives from supervising ministries of finance and steel and of course Host Community.

However, the monarchs urged the legislators to show responsiveness and collaboration.

“Our position therefore is that our legislators must cooperate with the Honourable Minister of Steel Development, the management of the two companies and stakeholders to come up with workable positions and ideas that would strengthen the hand of President Bola Tinubu to ensure that Ajaokuta Steel Plant works.”

The traditional custodians of the people of Kogi Central and Ebiraland listed massive employment generation for our teaming youths, technological breakthrough and economic emancipation as obvious benefits of the resuscitation and completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe.

They recalled the bold steps of President Muhammadu Buhari, urging President Tinubu to consider it a priority to revisit the twin Ajaokuta and Itakpe projects.

“The history of these companies in our land has seen glory and trepidation. The best of the moments were between 1979 and 83 during the era of Late President Shehu Shagari, whose government took the project from scratch to a near completion stage in record time. His administration showed commitment and carried everybody along and capped it up with the creation of a separate ministry of steel development and the appointment of Late Mamman Ali Makele, an indigene of the state as Minister, a decision that made policy implementation on issues related to the development of Ajaokuta Steel Plant and Itakpe Iron Ore Mining Company easier and efficient. This is why we have a place we now call a steel plant, though left uncompleted forty years down the line.”

They also commended Tinubu on his development strides, restoration of the Steel Development Ministry and appointment of an indigene of Kogi State to drive its efforts in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda.

“The new policy initiative is commendable and needs the support of every Sons and Daughters of Ebiraland and Kogites. This period is therefore a period of collaboration of ideas, support of government initiatives on these two companies and above all it is a period to deescalate controversies that may distract the government, stakeholders and would-be investors that may show interest in helping to give life to the Ajaokuta Dream.”

By Ebireri Henry Ovie

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