Why I declined Assent to Ajaokuta Concession Bill– President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhafri
President Muhammadu Buhari believes that the inputs of key stakeholders are necessary to create the optimal legal and regulatory framework for the steel sector

President Muhammadu Buhari has explained the reasons he declined to assent a bill seeking to stop the concession of Ajaokuta Steel Company.

Mr Buhari announced his decision to withhold assent to the bill via a letter read during senate plenary on Tuesday.

The bill for an act to provide for the Ajaokuta Steel Company completion fund was passed by the house of representatives in March, 2018, and by the senate in December.

In the letter read by Senate President Bukola Saraki, Buhari said appropriating $1 billion from the excess crude account, which the bill had provided for, is “not the best strategic option for Nigeria at this time of budgetary constraints.”

‘The Nation cannot afford to commit such an amount in the midst of competing priorities with long term social and economic impact that the funds can be alternatively deployed towards

“Furthermore, as the excess crude account funds belong to the federation, it would be proper to consult with the national economic council and the states,” he added.

“Relevant stakeholders, such as the ministries of Mines and Steel Development, and those of Industry, Trade and Investment were not fully consulted.”

President Buhari further submitted that: “The inputs of key stakeholders are necessary to create the optimal legal and regulatory framework as well as institutional mechanism to adequately regulate the steel sector”

The controversy

There has been a lingering back-and-forth surrounding the Ajaokuta Steel Company.

The lawmakers had earlier asked President Buhari to direct Mr Kayode Fayemi, the then minister of mines and steel development, to stop the process of concession.

Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the House of Representatives, had said $5.1 billion has so far been invested in the steel company located in Kogi state.

The failure of the lower legislative chamber to convince the Federal Government to shelve plans to make the concession led to the introduction of the bill by 301 of the 360 lawmakers.

The rescucitation of the steel company was part of Buhari’s campaign promises in 2015.

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