Nigeria: Govt Urged to Sell Moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company

24 February 2021

The Chairman and Managing Director of Energy Services Limited, Chief Sunny Onuesoke has appealed to the federal government to sell the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company and allow private sector expertise restructure it for the benefit of Nigerians.

He said no Nigerian will be happy after visiting the Ajaokuta Steel Company and see investments of more than $8bn rotting away.

"I went there, I cried and asked what exactly is the problem?" he said.

Onuesoke who spoke to newsmen in Warri after a private tour of the premises of the steel complex, recently, lamented that Ajaokuta steel Company that had reached 98 per cent completion as far back as 1994 had not produced a single steel till date, while Government is wasting huge sum of over N2 billion for payment of staff salaries every year for doing nothing.

He recalled that the federal government budgeted N3.9 billion in 2016 and N4.27 billion in 2017 for the resuscitation of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company, despite an earlier business case in the last administration showing that the complex could only work if properly privatised. He added that there was also a humongous budget on it in 2018.

"So why would anyone continue to pump money into an enterprise that is unproductive? Why do government keep promoting, paying staff salaries, pensioning and retiring them? Why do government spend appropriation budget on maintenance of plant that is not working? How do you maintain a non-commission plant? Onuesoke queried.

The businessman, who disclosed that successive administrations have pumped $8bn so far into the complex since 1979, lamented that it was, however, sad that the gigantic steel plant idea conceived and executed by past leaders had failed to contribute to the development of Nigeria.

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