Reps amend privatisation law to stop Ajaokuta concessioning

John Ameh, Abuja

The House of Representatives has gone a step further in its opposition to the concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company by proposing to amend the Privatisation Act.

In a resolution in Abuja, the House observed that the decision of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to engage PricewaterhouseCoopers, a “globally discredited” firm, to conduct a technical audit on ASC, meant that he was bent on concessioning the firm.

To stop Fayemi, the House proposed to amend the Privatisation Act immediately by expunging ASC from the list of public assets in the schedule that can be privatised or concessioned by the Federal Government.

It also sought to further amend the Act by removing the powers of the National Council on Privatisation as the authority to decide on which firms should be on the schedule.

The proposal to amend the Act was moved by the Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila. It was endorsed by members.

Gbajabiamila’s proposal was an amendment to an initial motion moved by Mr. Ahmed Sani Yerima and 24 other lawmakers.

The motion stated that PricewaterhouseCoopers was not only discredited in many countries, but also played a role in one of the past failed attempts to concession ASC.

The motion reads in part, “The House is further aware that the audit of Ajaokuta Steel Company is being undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers — a globally discredited firm, having been sanctioned in India, with a two-year audit ban for infractions of over $1bn.

“It was sanctioned in Brazil for which it paid $50m as fine; fined in the United Kingdom for £5.1m, the largest ever sanction imposed by the UK Regulator; paid $225m and $25m respectively as fines to TYCO shareholders in the U.S. and Bank of Tokyo – Mitsubishi, where it was implicated for money laundering for Iran, Sudan, and Myanmar.

“It was blacklisted for roles in terrorism and human rights abuses; among other infractions and irregularities in their operations, which have left its reputation in tatters.

“The House is concerned by the allegation that PricewaterhouseCoopers was informally engaged by Global Steel to assist and advise them on how to recover Ajaokuta Steel Company and National Iron Ore Company, Itakpe, from the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2012 at the onset of negotiations.

“Worried by the apparent actions of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development in engaging a company whose antecedents may suggest that they are being engaged to audit and prepare reports which may skew the outcome thereof in a preconceived manner in favour of parties which the minister may have lined up or which may represent the interests of their former clients, GINL.”

Many members, who spoke at the session presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, opposed concessioning ASC. They were disposed to the government completing the project as a public property.

They included Gbajabiamila; Yerima; Chairman, Committee on Federal Judiciary, Mr. Aminu Shagari; Chairman, Committee on Works, Mr. Toby Okechukwu; Chairman, Committee on Agriculture Production and Services, Mr. Mohammed Monguno; Mr. Edward Pwajok; and Mr. Mohammed Kazaure-Gudaji.

The motion was passed unanimously in a voice vote by members.

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