(Channels TV) Minister of mines and steel development, Architect Mohammed Musa Sada told the senate committee investigating the privatization of government owned companies that former President Olusegun Obasanjo approved the concession of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex to Global Infrastructure Limited against due process.
Architect Sada also told the senate committee that the federal government spends N300 million per month to the workers in Ajaokuta, resulting to N3.6 billion annually on the wages of workers of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Complex.
The minister, who alleged that the concessioner Global Infrastructure ruined the Ajaokuta Complex by stripping it of all valuable equipment and machineries, leading to the cancellation of the entire process by the federal government, however added that plans are under way to get some part of the complex working, and that the ministry will require only N650 million to bring the company up to a production level where it can generate funds to sustain itself.
“The concession of Ajaokuta steel goes back to 2003 when the first company Solgas was chosen. I agreed with the BPE because I saw it in the letter that the ministry was the sole organization for driving the concession agreement.
“It was actually an inter-ministerial committee of the then Ministry of Power and Steel, Finance and Justice and BPE, which participated as a member of the committee. One thing, I have no record of any of the minutes of that meeting to show that these are the deliberations taken.
“A letter was then raised by the then Minister of Power and Steel to the President, requesting the President’s approval to cancel the concession to Solgas and start discussion and conclude with another company Isfat, which is the mother company of Global Infrastructure. The President gave that approval.
“At a point in time, there was a share purchase agreement signed by the BPE. It was signed but never put into use, and I could not find any reason anywhere why it was not use. And the reason why the ministry was driving that process as against the BPE is something I am not privy to.
“But all I know is that there seems to be a tripod agreement between the companies that is interested, the presidency and the ministry. I think this is the tripod that seems to be moving BPE is just following along when discussions are being done. In a nut shell this is the situation. But as of now that concession has already been terminated because of certain findings by government. A committee was setup which found out so many illegal things been done by Global holding running Ajaokuta. It was cancelled.”
Still speaking about the huge funds being spent monthly to pay the company’s workers, Sada noted that the federal government pays N300 million per month to the workers while only N650 million is required to bring the company up to a production level where it can generate funds to sustain itself.
In his words, “We need a meagre N650 million to fix the complex to a level where it will be raising money to pay the workers there, but government is spending N300 million per month on workers salary for doing nothing.”
Architect Sada however lamented that privatization has failed in the steel sector and there is a need for government to continue to run that sector, if it does not want to lose all of its investment in the development of steel in Nigeria, stressing that “All I will want to say is that I want to concur with everybody that the privatization of the steel sector which I am very familiar with is in a sorry state. We have not been able to move forward. The sole purpose of privatization is to drive value, generate wealth employment and be able to take the country forward.”
The Minister also told the committee that Global Infrastructure ruined the Ajaokuta complex by stripping it of all valuable equipment and machineries, leading to the cancellation of the entire process by the federal government.
Confusion greeted the investigation into the privatization of the daily times of Nigeria as two parties claimed the ownership of the tabloid.
Core investor, folio communications limited represented by Fidelis Anosike, claimed to have bought daily times from BPE in 2004 at the sum of 1.250 billion naira insisting that it is still the owner of the firm.
However, DSV Limited represented by Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah claimed that it actually paid for the 96.05% Federal Government shares in Daily Times of Nigeria (DTN).
Mr.Anosike admitted to have borrowed money from DSV Limited, however told the committee that DSV has been trying to hijack Daily Times from folio Communications Ltd.
He added that the Daily Times started publication under him in November 2006 but the firm was forced to stop publication in 2009 due to the antics of Senator Obiorah.
Mr. Anosike disclosed that four ultramodern printing plants procured to turn around the fortunes of the Daily Times, were impounded by his investment partner, DSV since May 2010 in an effort to hijack the firm.
But Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah, who appeared before the committee as Chairman of DSV and Director Daily Times, disagreed, stressing that it was Folio Communications that failed to pay for the 96.05% of the Federal Government shares in Daily Times.
He told the committee that Folio Communications has been stripping and looting assets of Daily Times, and a Federal High Court has declared Folio Communications Ltd not the owner of Daily Times.
The Committee Chairman, Ahmed Lawan directed the two parties to submit all relevant documents in order to ascertain the rightful ownership of the firm.