BPE Sidelined in Re-negotiation on Ajaokuta


James Emejo in Abuja
The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) was not part of the new agreement which recently reverted the ownership of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Complex to the federal government, THISDAY has learnt.

The federal government had last Monday signed a renegotiated management concession agreement with Global Steel Holdings Ltd, an Indian firm for the Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe.

Among other things, the agreement effectively returns the steel company under government control while a management contract was renewed with Global Fleet.

The truce came following years of legal tussle over the ownership of the company.
Nevertheless, the new deal is expected to commence the process of getting a new investor with proven technical and financial capacity to manage the company.

However, the BPE, which is the privatisation agency of the federal government was said to have been kept in the dark while negotiations which led to the company’s eventual takeover lasted four years.
THISDAY investigations revealed there’s discontent among the privatisation agency top officials, who were unhappy for being sidelined especially where the bureau’s competence mattered.

A top official who under condition of anonymity, told THISDAY yesterday that these are some of the wrong steps taken by previous administrations, whereby government went into technical negotiations with foreign firms without the input of relevant local authorities only for such agreements to flop eventually.
The source said the BPE does not currently know the extent of the agreement or the terms involved because it had been kept in the dark right from the beginning.

It remains unclear why the government chose to sidelined the agency through out the negotiation.
Experts believe the resuscitation of the company is long overdue, given its potential for huge economic growth and massive employment generation especially for the teeming unemployed youths in Kogi State and Nigerians generally.