Ajaokuta Steel: You Are Lying To Nigerians – Lai Mohammed Slams Atiku
The Information Minister, Lai Mohammed has berated the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar for promising to deal with the challenges facing the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant in Kogi State.
The PDP flag bearer stated this during his campaign tour of Kogi State a few weeks back.
Reacting to the pledge from the former vice president in a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, Mohammed claimed that Atiku was amongst the forces responsible for stalling the project which President Muhammadu Buhari administration has resolved.
He insisted that Atiku’s statement was borne out if desperation for power, adding that the Waziri was in charge of the privatization programme during Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure.
He said, “About two weeks ago, during his campaign stop in Kogi State, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP, said if voted into office, his government will resolve the problems facing the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
“This is a deceitful statement borne out of desperation for power. A little bit of background will show that the former Vice President was deceiving Nigerians when he made that promise. Ajaokuta was concessioned to Global Steel Industry in 2004 by the regime of then-President Olusegun Obasanjo. Who was in charge of that Administration’s privatization programme? Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. That concession that turned out to be a mess was terminated by another PDP Administration.
” Following the failed concession, the concessionaire, Global Steel Industry, took Nigeria to court, asking for $7 billion, and that case lingered for 12 years until the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari stepped in and the company finally settled for $496 million. Out of the amount, we made a bulk payment of $250 million and agreed.”
The Minister went on to state that Ajaokuta was now in a better condition than before and moves were being made to bring investors to ensure that it works.
“What I am saying, in essence, is that the problems facing Ajaokuta were the poorly-thought-out and poorly-executed concession by the regime in which Alhaji Atiku was Vice President, and a regime under which he presided over the failed privatization programme. If the former Vice President had any solution to the Ajaokuta challenge, and he didn’t execute it in 2004, why should Nigerians trust him to do so in 2023, almost 20 years later? Apparently, the former VP is not even aware of the current status of Ajaokuta, the settlement reached with the concessionaire and the payments made. Without this information, how does he want to revive the steel company?
“Nigerians should beware of snake oil salesmen, who engage in deceit just to swindle them. The solution to Ajaokuta does not lie in the hands of the same people who scuttled the development of the country’s steel industry through a questionable concession. Nigerians beware! Don’t allow yourselves to be conned twice!”, he added.