There is no assets stripping at the Ajaokuta Steel Complex in Kogi State, the Minister of Mines and Steel, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite, has said.
Arch. Adegbite also disclosed that the Federal Government is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Russia, along with two organizations – Russian Export Centre and Afrexim bank – by month end.
While Afreximbank would provide $1bn, the Russian Export Centre would make $460m available to complete the long moribund project in the next two years.
The Minister who disclosed this in Lagos added that the Ajaokuta steel was between 95 and 98 per cent completion.
He also revealed that the contribution of mines to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country rose from less than N100m in 2005 to over 5bn in 2019.
The Minister who highlighted the efforts to revive the moribund steel complex said the MoU with Russia would be on a Build, Operate and Transfer basis, saying the loans to be secured come with less than five per cent interest.
He said FG was counting on Russia to get the complex running optimally and an accord to revive it was reached at a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin in Russia last October.
According to him, the steel complex would be run as a strictly business concern while the repayment would come from the company itself.
The Minister who also debunked allegation of assets stripping in the complex disclosed that the Federal Government has so far sunk over N6bn on the project.
He said when completed and at full operation the steel company would employ over 10,000 engineers, stressing that the project is critical to leapfrogging Nigeria into an industrial hub.
He noted that the workers of the company had maintained the equipment and facilities at the complex, adding that Ajaokuta would have been a ghost town if not for the annual budget of N2bn to pay salaries and emoluments of workers.