By Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives yesterday mandated its joint Committee Steel, Privatization and Commercialization and Justice to investigate the concession, affairs and failure of the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill (ASRM) for further legislative action.
This is sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Rep Ben Nwankwo (PDP, Anambra) on the “promise and failure of ASRM”.
Nwankwo recalled that the company was commissioned in 1983 at 95 percent completion state as it was thought that funds to be generated from the production of steel from the completed components of the integrated steel plant will fund the completion of the remaining 5 percent of the project.
He maintained that the concessionaires allegedly administered the companies in ways contrary to the concession agreement, which included alleged unfair labour practices, assets stripping and other practices inimical to the proper functioning of the companies.
Nwankwo observed that “owning to the complaints regarding the operation of ASRM and NIOMC by the concessionaries, the government of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua revoked the concession agreement in 2007, leading to a protracted arbitral proceedings at the International Centre for Commercial Arbitration in London.
According to him, the recent disclosures indicate that the Federal Government has reacquired the ASRM from Global Infrastructural Holding Limited “in circumstances that are still hazy, while the fate of the NIOMC is still unclear”
The lawmaker, who described the turn of events at the steel company as “a national disaster” disclosed that “ a sole administrator has been appointed to administer ASRM, while a Ukranian company has reportedly been appointed as its managers “on terms that can best be described as unclear”
He expressed concern that the failure of ASRM, despite the investment of an estimated $20 billion dollars from inception to date gas become a national embarrassment to the country.