THERE ARE indications that an amicable resolution of the ownership crisis rocking the Ajaokuta Steel Complex might be reached early next month, August, when the Nigerian government and Messrs Global Steel Holdings Limited, and Indian firm, are scheduled to sign terms of settlement. The signing of the terms of settlement will free Ajaokuta Steel Complex from all contractual encumbrances that had left it uncompleted and non-functional for decades, it was reliably learnt. Negotiations for amicable resolution of the ownership crisis of the foremost steel company have lingered on since 2008, leaving the country’s steel and industrial sectors comatose. A source close to the presidency said President Muhammadu Buhari had already given approval for the execution of the “modified concession agreement with Global Steel Holdings Limited, following reports of the mediation meetings forwarded to him from the Justice ministry.”
The mediation meetings, it was reliably learnt held series of meetings in London, United Kingdom. The London meetings, it was said followed months of negotiations between the Federal Government and Global Steel Holdings, coordinated by an international mediator, Phillip Howell-Richardson. While the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi, whose ministry is responsible for the steel sector, led the Nigerian team to the series of meetings, our sources said. The team also comprised top officials of the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development and Ministry of Justice. The Chairman of GSHL, Prammod Mittal, led the consortium’s team to the meetings. Another source said part of the agreements reached during the last meeting was that the Ajaokuta Steel Complex reverts to the Nigerian government fully, while its sister company, Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO, would be retained by GSHL under existing concession agreement but with Ajaokuta plant gaining priority access to the iron ore from NIOMCO. It will be recalled that President Buhari has repeatedly promised to diversify the Nigerian economy and create jobs through agriculture and extraction of solid minerals. Mr. Fayemi, as Minister of Solid Minerals Development had in many fora restated the Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring that the AjaokutaSteel Complex is revitalised. The multi-billion dollar Ajaokuta Steel Company is regarded as one steel complex with capacity to help trigger the much-needed industrialisation of the country as well as stimulate growth in the iron and steel sub sector. Several investors had expressed interest in the completion and running of the plant, including the Russian and Ukranian original builders of the plant; a Chinese consortium and many indigenous steel companies.

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