The Federal Government has inaugurated the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Inauguration Team (APPIT), to help restore the company in line with the recent agreement reached with Russia to revive the steel company.
Inaugurating the team yesterday, May 11, in Abuja, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Mustapha, who chairs the team, noted that the Ajaokuta Steel plant has languished in economic unproductivity for about four decades and that previous efforts at resuscitate it had proved abortive.
He said this has resulted in avoidable massive foreign exchange losses at intolerable opportunity cost to the country, adding that the pressing need to redress these avoidable challenges had necessitated the current Presidential intervention.
He added that this is further underscored by difficulties being witnessed with present challenges in the global oil industry.
According to him, revamping the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, therefore, clearly presents a unique opportunity to make the country West Africa’s largest fully integrated steel producer and most importantly accelerate its industrialization, especially in steel related industries.
He said: “This government places a lot of value on the diversification of the economy, hence Mr. President’s participation at the Russia-Africa Summit last year in Sochi, to discuss the reviving of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.
“Following the bilateral discussions in Sochi, the Ajaokuta Steel project is to be resuscitated on the basis of a Government-to-Government agreement with funding from the Afreximbank and the Russian Export Center.
However, one of the key issues discussed by the parties was the Technical Audit, Upgrade, Completion and Operation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
“Today’s inauguration of the Ajaokuta Presidential Project and Implementation Team (APPIT), is, therefore, meant to kick start the process of re-directing the activities of the Steel Plant with the aim of bringing the Steel Project back to life for the growth and economic development of our dear nation.
“I am happy to note that preliminary works have commenced to determine parameters for effective and coordinated take-off of rehabilitation works on the Steel plant.
It is on this note that Mr. President graciously approved the composition of this Implementation Team that is being inaugurated today.”
The team is to engage in all bilateral negotiations as shall be necessary on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria leading to the execution of the Government-to-Government Agreement with the Russian Federation and the Afreximbank.
While it will also provide all relevant technical and other inputs necessary to close the Government-to-Government negotiations, the team is to ensure that the best extreme possible, all relevant raw materials are sourced locally, bearing in mind the local content provisions and the Presidential Executive Order 005.
Other tasks set before the team are to examine and assemble Nigerian Content Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), Special Purpose Vehicle Contractors which will embody the Co-Concessionaire representing Nigeria’s interest in the Build-Operate-Transfer, BOT, Concession;
“Ensure the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel Plant (ASP) based on the original design; and ensure timely commissioning of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant (ASP) within a reasonable period to be agreed upon by the parties to the agreement and recommend primary tenure of a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Concession”.