The Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society on Sunday advised the Federal Government to concession the Ajaokuta Steel Company to a competent private operator.
Prof. Gbenga Okunlola, the President of the society, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Okunlola said that although work at the plant had reached 98 per cent completion, Nigeria would still require four billion dollars (N1.2 trillion) to complete the construction.
Okunlola said the society had advised the government to run the company as a private entity and not as a government driven company.
According to him, the government may not be able to raise the fund at this time of recession and as such, the way out is to concession it.
“Government has no business in steel production; Ajaokuta must be concessioned to a private company that has experience in steel production.
“One of the strengths of a country is the steel industry,’’ Okunlola said.
He said there should be holistic and stringent arrangement with any company that would be given the concession to avoid mismanagement.
The society’s president said the steel company could create 200,000 direct and indirect jobs when it becomes operational.
He added that the company would also reduce importation of steel into the country.
NAN recalls the federal government in August 2016, re-concessioned the National Iron Ore Mining Company [NIOMCO] at Itakpe to Global Infrastructure Holding Limited (GIHL), an Indian company, but took full control of the Ajaokuta steel company.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration had concessioned Ajaokuta steel and NIOMCO to GIHL in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
The Indian firm, however, did not live up to expectations in managing the two companies.
Consequently, the federal government, under the late Umaru Yar’Adua, revoked the Ajaokuta concession contract in April 2008.