Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, has been urged to order immediate probe into the Federal Government’s payment of $496 million to an Indian firm to revitalise the Itakpe Iron Ore Company.

The call is coming following the company’s failure to get the project off the ground many years after collecting the amount.

National coordinator of Transparency Group Network (TGN), a civil society organisation based in Port Harcourt, the River State capital, Uche Michael, stated this while speaking with newsmen, yesterday.

He urged the Federal Government to respect the opinion of over 250 million Nigerians by halting any further transaction on the revitalisation of Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill which he described as transferring to foreigners through the back-door, Nigerians commonwealth contrary to the national interest of protecting such heritage for the people.

Michael expressed worries over the poor system of governance adopted by the Federal Government through its relevant agencies such as the Federal Ministry of Steel Development and Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment among others.

TGN boss further lamented that despite the presence highly intellectual personalities, including professors, members of National Assembly, seasoned administrators, captains of industry, technical and financial consultants among others, Nigerian leaders still allow foreigners to fool the entire nation with unrealistic proposals and non-achievable business plans.”

The group commended the National Assembly Joint Committee on Steel Development for passing a resolution to probe the $496 million paid by the Federal Government to an Indian firm which failed to revitalise the Itakpe Iron Ore Company even after many years.

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It noted that preference should be given to national companies who can run such plants, ensure employment generation, reducing imports and do away with siphoning out much needed forex and mineral resources.

He said: “The Global Infrastructure Holding Ltd. (GIHL) took over the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, Kogi State in 2016 and got its agreement terminated in 2019 due to non performance.

“GIHL dragged the Federal Government to court for breach of contract and it was awarded damages to the tune of $496 million which had been paid by the Federal Government.

“We are outrightly against the way the Federal Government is deliberately and ignorantly selling out its national heritage without recourse to the yearnings and agitation of Nigerians, especially at this crucial period when the nation is battling with economic stability among other challenges.

“Almost five decades of lost opportunity towards strengthening large scale steel production in Nigeria, failed attempts without proper road map. It is also on record that Russians and Ukrainians supplied already obsolete technology then in 1970s.

“We urge the Federal Government and its concerned ministries to carefully dig deep into their Detailed Project Report, Elaborated Business Plan, Capital Outlay and Cash Flow Projections by involving independent agencies and champions of business in Nigeria. We are quite sure the so-called the investment from Jindal is a faux pass and outrightly exaggerated number that will put Nigeria, its assets, resources and public in total mess again.”

Speaking further, the TGN helmsman, said: “Another blunder was committed by handing over Ajaokuta, Itakpe mines with all the infrastructure and Delta Steel plants to GHIL, India. They took over the plant and siphoned all the resources from our country and eventually we did not get any benefit.”