Dr Kayode Fayemi, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, says the Federal Government will not touch the Ajaokuta Steel Company until all legal issues are resolved.
Fayemi made the disclosure at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.
He said that there was a pending case between the Federal Government and a foreign investor, called the Global Infrastructure Holdings Limited (GIHL), which claimed that steel plant was concessioned to in 2003.
“For us, Ajaokuta is priority but nobody is going to touch Ajaokuta in the international investment terrain until it become unencumbered.
”Ajaokuta was concessioned off in 2003 by President Obasanjo, in 2008 President Umar Yar’ Adua came and revoked it.
“That revocation did not take into account that the concession had not expired, the Global Infrastructure company took us to Arbitration Court in the United Kingdom.
“Up till last week, the Attorney General and I still met with the mediator who came all the way from London.”
He explained that six countries had approached Nigeria government to revive Ajaokuta within 24 months, adding that the President was interested in partnering with one of the countries.
“The countries gave us guarantee to revive Ajaokuta within 24 months to bring it to operation, but the countries also have steel operations in other parts of the world.
“If we dam the consequences and give Ajaokuta to them, they are going to get a lien against their operations in other parts of the world.
“We have to resolve the legal issue on ground, because Ajaokuta has become a collective shame to Nigerians.’’
Fayemi said that only 18 steel companies were currently operating out of 30 steel companies existing in Nigeria with the production of 2.6 million tonnes of steels annually.
According to him, the quantity of steel Nigeria is producing necessitated the huge importation gap, as the country is consuming six million tonnes annually.
He said the bulk of what the companies produced was from scrap and importation of billet from China.
According to him, the Nigeria Customs Service collects 12 per cent tax from steel importers to discourage importation and to support local industries.