The House of Representatives on Thursday advised President Muhammadu Buhari to stop Mines and Steel Development Minister, Dr Kayode Fayemi, from concession moves of Ajaokuta Steel Company, Kogi State.
The House said that the stoppage was to give time for conclusion of review of the process ordered by the chamber as part of its drive to get the company back on stream.
The resolution followed a motion by Rep. Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara-APC) and 24 other lawmakers.
The motion is entitled “Urgent Need to Investigate the Circumstances under Which the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Engaged the Globally Discredited PricewaterhouseCoopers ( PwC ) to audit Ajaokuta Steel Complex for Purposes of Concession.”
Moving the motion, Yerima said he was aware that Fayemi recently announced, “and it was widely published’’, that Ajaokuta Steel Company would be given out on concession after an ongoing audit.
He disclosed that audit of the company was undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which he alleged, had been discredited, “having been sanctioned in India with a two-year audit ban for infractions of over one billion dollars’’.
The lawmaker said that the firm was also sanctioned in Brazil for which it paid 50 million dollars as fine, and was fined in the United Kingdom for 5.1 million pounds.
He also said that the firm paid 225 million dollars and 25 million dollars, respectively, as fines to TYCO shareholders in the U.S and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishiw for laundering money for Iran, Sudan and Myanmar.
He added that it was blacklisted for roles in terrorism and human rights abuses, among other infractions and irregularities in its operations, “which has left its reputation in tatters.”
However, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari, on Thursday faulted the position of the House of Representatives on the Ajaokuta Steel Complex.
The duo said they have not contracted any transactional adviser for concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company as wrongly asserted by the House.
They also said the ministry has not spent a kobo from the N2, 096,500.00 appropriated by the House for concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company in the 2017 Appropriation Act.
They said it was rather worrisome that the House of Representatives could devote an entire day to non-existing matter.
The Ministers made the clarifications in a statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister, Olayinka Oyebode.
The statement said: “The attention of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari, has been drawn to the debate by members of the House of Representatives on the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, where the House adopted a resolution to stop the planned concessioning of the steel company.
“Whilst the ministers are convinced the Honourabe members mean well as patriots concerned about an important national asset, it is also a fact that they have grossly misunderstood the ministers and other stakeholders working with the Ministry on this exercise.
“In view of this and the need to set the record straight for the sake of the general public and the investing community, it is important to state as follows:
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has not contracted any transactional adviser for the concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company, as wrongly asserted by the House.
The process for the appointment of a Transactional Adviser is on, but cannot be completed until it gets the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The Ministry has not spent a dime from the N2, 096,500.00 (Two billion, ninety six million, five hundred thousand naira) appropriated by the House for the concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company (in the 2017 Appropriation Law).
“The mediation process that led to the amicable settlement of the legal encumbrances on Ajaokuta Steel Complex has not ended. There are still a few more steps to be taken as outlined in the terms of (out of court) settlement. And the Ministry is following up on this.
“It is also important to state that no one has been hired.
We find it rather worrisome that the House of Representatives could devote an entire day to an issue that has not even arisen.
“The Ministry remains committed to making Ajaokuta Steel Plant function effectively, convinced that steel remains the most important engineering material and backbone of industrialisation in any economy.”