Ajaokuta: Fayemi Replies Reps: You Attack Me For Implementing A Law You Approved

A week after the House of Reps passed a vote of no confidence on the minister of mines, Kayode Fayemi, the minister has replied saying he was only implementing an approved law.

A national newspaper reported how the House of Representatives last week passed a vote of no confidence on Mr. Fayemi following his non-appearance at a public forum.

The lawmakers organised the forum to debate the way forward on the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, Nigeria’s largest steel firm.

Mr. Fayemi, at a press conference, however said he was working on the concessioning of Ajaokuta because it was so approved in the 2017 budget. He also reiterated that he had notified the lawmakers he would not be present at the public event.

The minister’s statement at the press conference was sent to PREMIUM TIMES by his spokesperson, Yinka Oyebode.

Read the minister’s full statement below.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, on Thursday revealed that the House of Representatives duly appropriated N2,096,500,000 (Two billion, ninety six million, five hundred thousand naira ) for the concessioning of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex in the 2017 budget, wondering why the same House has now turned around to attack the ministry for implementing the law.

The minister who addressed journalists in Abuja on Thursday, said both the ministry and the National Assembly had been on the same page regarding the need to concession the steel complex adding that the ministry had been canvassing the concessioning option in all its meetings and sectoral debates with the lawmakers.

He said government had taken a decision not to spend an additional one dollar on Ajaokuta, since over $8 billion dollar had been sunk into the project by successive administrations since 1982.

Instead, he said, government felt it would be better to give the complex to a credible operator with proven technical capacity and financial wherewithal to run it more profitably.

This he said necessitated the appropriation of over N2 billion for the concessioning in the 2017 appropriation duly passed into law by the same lawmakers now opposed to concessioning.

“We are just implementing what was passed by the National Assembly; that is why we are surprised that we have been subjected to an unwarranted attack over the matter in the last one week”.

Mr. Fayemi said the March 1, 2018 sectoral debate which himself and the Minister of State, Abubakar Bwari, could not attend, and for which they duly notified the lawmakers, was the first and only time they would be absent at such debates, having attended four previously, with focus on Ajaokuta and the steel sector.

The minister stated that most of the allegations made against him, the Minister of State and the ministry officials were not only unfounded but malicious. He said while the House members reserved the right to discuss and pass resolutions on national issues, he took serious exception to a member of the House going outside the hallowed chambers to make spurious allegations against public servants.

He revealed also that the technical audit, which would determine the actual cost of fixing Ajaokuta Steel Complex, was still on going, and would be ready in six weeks.

Specifically, Mr. Fayemi said that contrary to insinuations, the Russian government had never approached the ministry nor the federal government to signify interest in running the complex.

He, however, confirmed that some companies in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Nigeria had expressed interest in taking over the Ajaokuta Complex, but that the Ministry’s stand was that they should wait till an open and competitive bid for the steel complex would be opened.

This, he said would happen after certain things have been put in place including the technical audit.

Mr. Fayemi said that the idea that the Ajaokuta complex was 98 per cent completed can best be determined by the outcome of the technical audit, without which he said insistence on the 98 per cent completion amount to mere sloganeering.

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