NGO to FG: Recover $496 million given to an Indian enterprise to resuscitate Itakpe Iron Ore.

Transparency Group Network, a well-known non-governmental organization, has increased its advocacy efforts to encourage the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish a debt collection framework in the issue of large sums of money paid to an Indian corporation to revive a critical national asset.

It stated that it revealed that the Indian company got a big payment to resuscitate the Itakpe Iron Ore Company.

However, the firm has yet to become operational following the payment.

Comrade Uche Michael, the National Coordinator of TGN, an NGO based in Port-Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, called on the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to order an investigation into the $496 million paid by the Federal Government to an Indian firm that failed to revitalize the Itakpe Iron Ore Company after many years of work engagement, during a media interview on Tuesday.

Michael noted that the Federal Government should respect the opinion of over 250 million Nigerians by halting any further transaction on the revitalisation of Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill, which aim he said is to transfer the firm to foreigners through the back-door contrary to the national interest of protecting the heritage of the nation and national assets.

He voiced concern about the weak governance structure implemented by the Federal Government through its key departments, such as the Federal Ministry of Steel Development and the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment.

The TGN further lamented that despite the presence highly intellectual personalities such as university professors, industrialists, members of the National Assembly, seasoned administrators, captains of Industries, technical and financial consultants among others, “it is unfortunate that our leaders still allow foreigners to fool the entire nation with unrealistic proposals and non-achievable business plans”.

The organization praised the National Assembly’s Joint Committee on Steel Development for approving a resolution to investigate the $496 million paid by the Federal Government to the Indian.

It stated that preference should be given to national enterprises capable of running such factories, creating jobs, reducing imports, and eliminating the siphoning of much-needed foreign cash and natural resources.

Michael said: “The Global Infrastructure Holding Limited 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 a proper road map. 

“It is also on record that Russians and Ukrainians supplied already obsolete technology then in the 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 here in Nigeria. 

“We are quite sure that the so-called 5B investment from Jindal is a faux pas and an outrightly exaggerated number that will put Nigeria, her assets, resources and general public in total mess again.

“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 out all the resources from the country and eventually the country did not get any benefit.

“GIHL was never serious in running the plants and mines at Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Delta Steel Company and Itakpe. 

“Later, GHIL sold its stakes in Delta Steel Company to Stallion Group under a SPV to Premium Steel and Mines Limited.

“This acquisition was also a marvel of financial engineering by PSML to hide black money generated and siphon out of the country through their other businesses.

“When stallion did not get support from the former President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, they had to shut down the PSML Warri business around 2020. 

“Sadly, for the third time, the Federal Government is trying to bring in Chinese and Indian companies to loot the resources from Ajaokuta, Delta Steel plants and Itakpe mines. 

“Interestingly, the immediate past government had paid the sum of $496 million to GIHL as compensation despite massive public outrage, wherein these investors are merely looking at Itakpe mines to cater their offshore companies at much cheaper rate of iron ore supplies.”

The CSO stated that Jindal India was urged to draw out a takeover plan behind closed doors without public disclosure, despite the fact that many injunctions were in place in various courts.

It cautioned the Federal Government that Ajaokuta and Delta Steel entity are antiquated technology, and any entity claiming to manage and profit from them is simply misrepresenting the nation with ulterior motives.

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