Business Hilights
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FG should forget plans to sell Ajaokuta steel complex—NASS

Barely 24 hours after the Federal Government revealed its readiness to offer more of its assets for sale soon, under the ongoing privatisation programme including Ajaokuta Steel Complex, a federal lawmaker has cautioned against the move, saying “House of Representatives have resolved that no plan to sell the national asset will be allowed”.
Federal government, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele had hinted that the aim of the planned sale is to raise more money to implement the country’s 2018 deficit-based budget.
Business Hilights recalls that the the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Limited Plc was offloaded, with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which already has a majority stake, emerging the preferred buyer, given the company’s security status.
Speaking at the just concluded
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who addressed Nigerian delegation at the end of the International Monetary Fund/World Bank Group meetings in Bali, Indonesia, disclosed that more national asset are going to market very soon.
According to him, “I am aware, as a member of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) that more are coming and I believe in due course that the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) will make this available for us. I am aware of the situation of Ajaokuta Steel Company of Nigeria. It is also on the cart, first for a total review of the process of privatisation and payment, so that our aluminum sector can eventually come alive”.
It would be recalled that the government and people of Kogi State, the host of the moribund national asset had hosted federal lawmakers including the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara few months ago when the former Minister of Solid Minerals and now the governor of Ekiti State, (sworn in today), Dr Kayode Fayemi, made a frantic move to sale the company due to inability of the government to secure the very last fund needed to complete it for to begin production.
Dogara during the tour of the facility, decried the inability of the government to do the needful by completing the factory, arguing that “Completing the plant will free billions of dollars that will be used to construct both the second Niger Bridge and Manbila Power plant.
At the heat of the debate on whether to sell or not, Prof. Ken Ife, a macroeconomic policy analyst, “The decision to privatise it is a wise one because the complex remains one of the white elephant projects we have in Nigeria. We need to look for a competent investor with a large war chest who can inject the needed funds to revatilise it, so that it can play its role in the country, providing the necessary steel derivatives for the rail, auto, manufacturing, building and construction industries across and beyond the country.”
However, Ife’s views were roundly knocked out by Abuja based development economist and public analyst, Mr. Odilim Enwegbara, who disagreed, averring that “This administration cannot embark on the sale of a key strategic asset like Ajaokuta when it has less than a year to the end of its tenure. It should wait until after election. If it wins again, then it can do that. Besides, the executive lacks the power to sell such a critical national asset without the approval of the legislature. Let them look for funds elsewhere to fund the budget. They cannot sell a key national asset like that to fund one fiscal budget. What happened to the recovered loot they got?”
Currently, opposition to the sale of Ajaokuta is more in numbers than those that want it sold after all.