By Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja
The House of Representatives has demanded from the Executive the details of the agreement between Nigeria and Russia over the completion of Ajaokuta Steel Company.
The House made the demand following the adoption of a motion moved at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday by Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta.
He said that Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution as amended provides that no treaty between the federation and any other country shall have the force of law except to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly.
The lawmaker added that the National Assembly as an arm of government responsible for making laws for the peace, order and also passionate about national development, including revamping the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company was not privy to the details of the agreement signed by President Muhammadu Buhari and his Russian counterpart.
He recalled that it was reported in some national dailies that Buhari signed a government-to-government agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the recently concluded Russian-Africa summit in Sochi for the Russian Engineering and Construction Group MetProm to undertake necessary work to bring Ajaokuta Steel Company into operation, which would be financed by the State-Owned Russian Export Center JSC and the Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank.
Nkem-Abonta, who commended the action of the president in taking pragmatic steps towards ensuring the full operation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company, stressed that the statutory provisions regarding the ratification or implementation of treaties or international agreements have to be followed in order to streamline government efforts carried out by its distinct arms for the overall benefits of the people.
He further recalled that the 8th National Assembly passed the Ajaokuta Steel Completion Fund Bill in 2018 and transmitted it to the president for assent, but he withheld assent to the Bill raising certain reservations.
Nkem-Abonta said that the Bill has been reviewed and the concerns raised by the president addressed, re-gazzetted and has passed first reading in the House.
In his contribution, the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, said that since the Executive in its wisdoms decided that those that started the contract should complete it, the Executive should now bring the parliament up to speed.
The House therefore mandated “the Committees on Steel and Treaties, Protocols and Agreements to interface with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development on the agreement between the two countries on the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company, in order to ensure a seamless ratification of such an agreement and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.
“Also mandate the Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements to review all extant treaties entered into by the federal government and other countries with a view to invoking Section 12(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amendment) on implementation of such agreement”.