• Govt pays final $50m settlement to Global Steel next month

From Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja

The Federal Government has accused former vice president Atiku Abubakar of being deceitful and deliberately misleading Nigerians on the status of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited.

This is  as the government said it would close the curtain on a 12-year litigation involving the company, with a final payment of $50 million to Ajaokuta’s former concessionaire , Global Steel Limited, out of the $496 million settlement agreed upon.

 The  concessionaire had sued the Federal Government demanding $7 billion upon which the court awarded the firm only $496 million claims.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this at the 19th edition of the PMB scorecard (2015-2023) series in Abuja, yesterday.

He said about two weeks ago, Atiku Abubakar, who is the presidential candidate of the PDP during his campaign stop in Kogi said if voted into office, his government will resolve the problems facing the Ajaokuta Steel Company.

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Said Mohammed: “This is a deceitful statement borne out of desperation for power. A little bit of background will show that the former vice president  was deceiving Nigerians when he made that promise. 

“Ajaokuta was concessioned to Global Steel Industry in 2004 by the regime of then President Olusegun Obasanjo. Who was in charge of that administration’s privatisation program? Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. That concession that turned out to be a mess was terminated by another PDP administration.

“Following the failed concession, the concessionaire, Global Steel Industry, took Nigeria to court, asking for $7 billion, and that case lingered for 12 years until the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari stepped in and the company finally settled for $496 million. Out of the amount, we made a bulk payment of $250 million and agreed to pay the balance in five instalments. To date, we have paid a total of $446 million out of the $496 million. We will make the last payment of $50 million next month and Ajaokuta will revert fully to us – ending the shameful and failed concession by the administration in which Alhaji Atiku Abubakar served as the vice president.  Now, we are talking to investors who are ready to bring their money into Ajaokuta to make sure it works. Minister of Mines and Steel Development, who was here last month, assured that before this administration leaves office, Ajaokuta will be concessioned in what he called equitable terms.”

In his presentation, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Ibrahim, said government got $820 million from sales of 5G licences to three operators in the country.

The latest technology, he said, had been deployed in eight states of the federation.

“Deployment of 5G will increase the Gross Domestic Product and create new jobs. MTN, Mafab and Airtel have participated in the action process…and this generated $820 million for the federal government. 5G services are now available in, at least, 225 sites across eight states in Nigeria.”

Asked why criminality and kidnappings were still rife in the country, despite using registered SIM cards, the minister replied that the ministry was not a security institution, but would always assist if a request is made.