Osun – Nigeria’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite said the federal government is close to privatizing the Ajaokuta steel which is still under construction.
Adegbite disclosed this on Thursday in Osogbo, Odun State.
According to him, foreign and local investors have shown interest in acquiring the Ajaokuta Steel Company located in Kogi State.
He said the Federal Government is on the verge of handing over the management, operation and development of the company to the best among the investors.
The Minister made the disclosure while speaking at the 93rd Annual Anniversary of Government College Ibadan Old Boys Association held at Gbogan in Osun State.
Adegbite said so far, five foreign investors and three Nigeria mining production companies have shown interest in the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
The Minister said vetting of the interested investors would end in November this year, as the ministry has sought the assistance of a private consultancy company to choose the best out of the private investors.
“We have already employed the transaction adviser, PWC International, they are going to rank these proposals from one to eight, there is room for more.
“We are going to close by the end of November but the transaction adviser will rank them and the ranking I will need to take it to the Federal Executive Council where the final decision will be taken, whoever is chosen will have Ajaokuta.
“People are coming up with different proposals but we will rank them and tell us what is best to go. As I said, the federal government has its own setback in Ajaokuta,” Adegbite said.
In March, Adegbite revealed that the revitalization works on the Ajaokuta steel company plant located in Kogi State would not be concluded before the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari ends in 2023.
The Minister disclosed this while speaking with state house correspondents in Abuja on 30th March.
It will be recalled that a 2022 date had earlier been announced by the federal government for the steel plant to roar back to life but the Minister in his address said the COVID-19 pandemic had slowed down the works as well as funds available for it.
He added that the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war is another impediment to the successful completion of the project.
The Minister pointed out that the delay was clearly caused by major unforeseen circumstances.
Adegbite said: “I’ve said it before, when we came back from Russia, yes, I went to the public and said, look we will deliver Ajaokuta before the end of this tenure.
And I pray that I’ll have a chance to go back and apologize and explain what happened to the people before I leave office.
“ It is due to no fault of ours. Everybody was ready to go, but unfortunately, COVID came in. So, it is a force majeure”
Adegbite, however , added that the federal government remains committed to the project and a British firm will now take over the project.
He assured further that the $2 million approved for the project had not been paid to the Russian firm but remains safe in the federal government coffers.(Daily Trust)