- Ajaokuta: NLC, NSE, Others Seek Termination of Sale Agreement
Stakeholders in the Nigerian iron and steel industry, including the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Nigerian Society of Engineers, in Abuja on Thursday asked the Federal Government to terminate whatever agreement it had with the Indian firm, Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, regarding the Ajaokuta Steel Complex and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe.
The Executive Secretary, African Iron and Steel Association, Dr. Sanusi Mohammed, also alleged that the Modified Agreement signed between the Federal Government and GINL was a document prepared by the Indian firm and rubber stamped by the government.
They said it was improper for the government to be warming up for the sale of Ajaokuta Steel Complex when the project had not been completed.
Others, who spoke at the press conference, included a former Vice Chancellor of the Sokoto State University, Prof. Nuhu Yaqup; General Secretary, National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Issa Aremu; and former National Chairman, Metallurgical, Mining and Materials Division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Prof. David Esezobor, who represented the NSE President.
Others were a member of the Nigerian Metallurgical Society, Dr. Edeki Mudiare; and President, Igbira Youth Congress, Mr. Baba Razark, who threatened that the youth of the host communities would be forced to take drastic action if the government did not stop taking decisions that were against the interests of the nation and the host communities.
Mohammed said rather than enter into a new negotiation with the Indian firm, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should investigate and prosecute the firm for economic sabotage as was directed by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2008.
He said the EFCC should also fish out Nigerian collaborators who had allegedly been working against the national interest in the iron and steel industry, which he said was the only thing that could provide the basis for industrialisation and national development.
Mohammed also alleged that a Nigerian had emerged to claim that he owned GINL in Nigeria and had incorporated a company in alliance with a serving governor, waiting in the wings to pounce on Ajaokuta Steel.
The Federal Government had given out Ajaokuta Steel and NIOMCO, Itakpe to GINL in 2005 as a concession but in 2008, the agreement was terminated with the government accusing the company of stripping the assets of the steel complex.
Consequently, the Indian firm headed for the International Court of Arbitration London. The case lingered until the Federal Government in August 2016 announced an out-of-court settlement that meant that GINL would manage Itakpe for seven more years, while conceding Ajaokuta to the government.
The Indian firm had made fresh demands for the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-rail line (under construction), the Warri Port and the Delta Steel Plant.
Mohammed alleged the Indian firm had no other mission but to frustrate Nigeria’s quest to have a slice of the global steel industry and that it should be prosecuted for failing in the previous agreement rather being pampered by the Federal Government.
He said, “The Federal Government should pursue a clear vision as well as clear policies and a road map/strategies for the development of the iron and steel sector, and hold the resurgence of steel as priority for the nation’s building.”
India, Spain, the Netherlands, USA, Nigeria’s Major Export Markets -NBS
India, Spain and the Netherland top Nigeria’s export markets in the final quarter of 2020, according to the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The Commodity Price Indices and Terms of Trade Q4 2020 report showed that the United States and China trailed the three.
However, the NBS revealed Nigeria exports mainly crude oil and natural gas during the period under review.
It, “The major export and import market of Nigeria in Q4 2020 were India, Spain, the Netherlands, United States and China.
“The major export to these countries were crude petroleum and natural gas. The major imports from the countries were motor spirits, used vehicles, motorcycles and antibiotics.”
The bureau stated that the all-commodity group import index increased by 0.13 per cent between October and December 2020.
“This was driven mainly by an increase in the prices of base metals and articles of base metals (one per cent), boilers, machinery and appliances; parts thereof (1.03 per cent), and products of the chemical and allied industries (0.75 per cent),” it stated.
The NBS, however, noted that the index was negatively affected by animal and vegetable fats and oils and other cleavage products.
Onyeama: Qatar To Invest $5bn In Nigeria’s Economy
The oil-rich state of Qatar is to invest a total of $5 billion in Nigeria’s economy, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Godfrey Onyeama, has disclosed.
Onyeama, who spoke Sunday at a send forth dinner in honour of Nigeria’s Ambassador-designate to the State of Qatar, who is also the outgoing Director of Protocol (DOP) at the State House, Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed, also stated that recent career ambassadorial appointments made by the gederal government was based on merit, experience and professionalism.
The minister further said there had been discussions with Qatar on partnership with Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), for significant investments in the region of $5 billion in the Nigerian economy.
According to him, ‘‘Qatar is a weighty and strategic country and very strategic in that part of the world and we are putting our best feet forward to advance the interest of our country economically and in other areas.”
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had visited the State of Qatar in 2016 and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, reciprocated with a State visit in 2019.
Onyeama also explained that only trusted hands with a track record of diligence, experience and professionalism in the Foreign Service were recently appointed career ambassadors by the federal government.
The minister said the appointment of Ahmed and other career ambassadors were predicated on posting dedicated and keen Foreign Service practitioners to serve as image makers of the country.
He said: ‘‘Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed is a dedicated professional with a penchant for rigour and detail. He is very capable and one of the best in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is personable, affable, extremely friendly, dispassionate and objective.
‘‘He is going to head a very important mission, a very important country, reckoned to be one of the richest countries in the world, per capita, and there’s a lot we will be doing with the State of Qatar.”
Also speaking, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Adeola Rahman Ipaye, described the honoree as a ‘‘perfect gentleman, very even-natured and always well turned out’’.
Ipaye said he had no doubt that the newly appointed ambassador would serve the country well in Qatar, adding that: ‘‘We are further encouraged that when he completes this assignment, he would return to serve Nigeria in a higher capacity.’’
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, while congratulating the outgoing DOP on his appointment, lauded Ahmed for excellent service to the State House and the nation.
‘‘He served this institution and the nation with the deepest sense of responsibility and it is very important that we establish a tradition where the system appreciates those who have served it well and those who will continue to serve it well,’’ he said.
Umar urged the new envoy to keep very fond memories of his time at the Presidential Villa, assuring him of the prayers and goodwill of all the staff.
Responding, Ahmed thanked President Buhari for the great honour and privilege of making him his principal representative in Doha, Qatar.
The Ambassador-designate pledged to deplore his energy and skill to the promotion of the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Qatar, particularly in the areas of economic, political, cultural and consular affairs as well as other key areas.
Ahmed, who joined Nigeria’s Foreign Service in 1993, said during his years in public service he had learnt that ‘‘patriotism, selfless service, diligence, determination and perseverance will always result in the achievement of the desired objective’’.
According to him, these virtues would be his ‘‘watchword’’ in the pursuit of Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives and the attainment of national interests.
The Ambassador-designate singled out for appreciation the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and the state Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, saying he had learnt a lot working under their mentorship.
He expressed gratitude to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Secretary, State House for giving him the opportunity of a memorable work experience in the State House.
France, Nigeria to Build New Partnership
France is currently aiming at building a new partnership with Nigeria, with the dispatching of its Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, to Nigeria.
Riester, who was expected at the time of filing this report on Monday, is scheduled to visit Nigeria from 12-14 April, 2021.
A statement from the French Embassy in Nigeria said: “Franck Riester is visiting Nigeria from 12 to 14 April, a visit that follows up on the priorities set by French President Emmanuel Macron during his official visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his desire to build a new partnership between Africa and France.
“As the largest economy in Africa and the economic engine of West Africa, Nigeria is indeed a major partner for France, the first in sub-Saharan Africa with bilateral trade amounting to a total of 4.5 billion USD in 2019 (2.3 billion USD in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic).”
It disclosed that the minister will have several official meetings in Abuja and Lagos, in order to underline the importance of the bilateral economic relationship and to prepare the summit on the financing of African economies in Paris on 18 May.
It revealed that the objective of the mission is also to further strengthen the links between the French and Nigerian private sectors, and “in this regard, the minister will have in-depth discussions with the main Nigerian economic actors to strengthen bilateral cooperation and investments, both in Nigeria and in France, particularly in the logistics sector”.
It said while in the country, the minister would meet with young Nigerian entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries sector, to discuss the major role of their country in African creativity and the development of the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the support of France.
It further said: “The minister will also open the ‘Choose Africa’ conference, a €3.5 billion initiative by President Emmanuel Macron dedicated to supporting the development of start-ups and SMEs in Africa to enable the continent to benefit fully from the opportunities of the digital revolution.”
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