The Federal Government has said that it would no longer commit funds into the Ajaokuta Steel with a view to remaining two percent of Phase 1 that could enable the taking-off of operation in the complex.
This was as the government also disclosed that at least, $650 million to $1 billion would be needed to complete the said 2 percent, adding that Russian investors have indicated interest in funding the completion of the Phase 1 which is currently at 98 percent completion.
Arc. Olamilejan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, disclosed the government’s position while addressing members of the House of Representatives Committee on Steel in Abuja on Thursday.
He said, “I will say something about Ajaokuta. Mr. President has made it abundantly clear that Nigeria will no longer put a penny of its money into completing the Ajaokuta Steel. We’ve been down that road before, and the President doesn’t want to commit anymore funds.
“So we are open to other options, and that’s why we’re facing and talking with the Russians who are willing to commit their money.
“Different figures have been bandied around regarding how much is needed to complete the complex. But we must understand that Ajaokuta was designed to come up in phases.
“The figures range from $400m to $550m, but what’s needed to complete the phase one is between $650 million to $1 billion,” the minister said.
Asegbite explained further that Ajaokuta was designed by the Russians and built by the Ukrainians who were also part of the Soviet Union at that time.
“Now, the Russians have come to show interest in completing the place and they are committing their own funds.
“And that’s why we’re facing and talking with the Russians. But there had been talks by vested interests who are bent on sabotaging government efforts toward completing this very important national asset.
“The last time I was with the Russian ambassador, calls were made trying to discourage him from negotiating with us. There are interests who don’t want Nigeria to produce its own steel.”