Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has inaugurated the Ajaokuta Presidential Project and Implementation Team (APPIT) to revamp the Ajaokuta Steel Plant that has been unproductive for about four decades.
The team is to be chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha.
The Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Uchechukwu Ogah, is the alternate chairman of the team.
President Muhammadu Buhari had discussed the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Russia-Africa Summit last year in Sochi.
In line with the discussions with Russia, the Ajaokuta steel project is to be revived on a bilateral agreement with funding from the Afreximbank and the Russian Export Centre.
However, one of the key issues discussed by the parties was the technical audit, upgrade, completion and operation of the steel plant.
Speaking during the inauguration, Mustapha noted that revamping the plant presented a unique opportunity to make Nigeria the largest fully integrated steel producer in West Africa and accelerate its industrialisation, especially in steel-related industries.
“Today’s inauguration of the Ajaokuta Presidential Project and Implementation Team (APPIT) is, therefore, meant to kick-start the process of re-directing the activities of the steel plant with the aim of bringing the Steel Project back to life for the growth and economic development of our dear nation,” he said.
APPIT is to engage in bilateral negotiations on behalf of the federal government leading to the execution of the government-to-government agreement with Russia and the Afreximbank.
It would provide all technical inputs and ensure that all raw materials are sourced locally in line with the local content provisions and the Presidential Executive Order 005 as well as assemble Nigerian Content Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), Special Purpose Vehicle Contractors, which would embody the co-concessionaire representing Nigeria’s interest in the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) concession.
The federal government has also mandated APPIT to ensure the resuscitation of Ajaokuta plant based on the original design in addition to its timely inauguration within a reasonable period to be agreed upon by the parties to the agreement and recommend the primary tenure of a BOT concession.
The 13-man committee is expected to prepare and submit a periodic work plan along with quarterly progress reports on assignment activities, end-of-assignment report and develop concession contract terms.
The federal government had said the Russian government and Afreximbank would provide up to $1.46 billion to fund the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited.
Buhari and Putin had agreed in October 2019 at the Russia-Africa Summit to pursue the completion of all abandoned projects initiated by both countries, including the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill.