The Minister of state for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bwari, on Monday said the federal government has no money to complete the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited.
Bwari made this comment as an ad hoc committee of the House chaired by the Majority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, opened a public hearing into the troubled steel plant.
The House is against the Federal Government’s plan to give the plant to private investor as a concession, and had taken up the former minister of Mines and Steel, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on the issue.
The two bills, sponsored by 301 lawmakers, were, ‘A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Ajaokuta Steel Company Completion Fund for the Speedy Completion of the Project; and for Related Matters’ and ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act, Cap. P38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to Review the List of Enterprises to be Privatised; and for Related Matters’.
Bwari, who appeared before the Gbajabiamila committee to defend the government’s decision to give out the plant as a concession, said that the government could not complete the plant because it could not afford the cost.
The minister stated, “With concession, the government will not put more money, but will appoint a reputable transaction adviser to move forward. Right now, the government does not have the funds. It is important that we hand it over to those who have the resources.
“The government is even borrowing to run services. That is to tell you that there is no money.”
Bwari added that it would cost the government far above the $500m to complete the plant and make it functional.