The House of Representatives has stated that it no longer has any business with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, having passed a vote of no confidence on him. The lawmakers went on to state that they would not regard Fayemi as an ‘honourable minister’ anymore.
In a resolution passed during plenary on Thursday, the House observed that Fayemi’s decision to engage PricewaterhouseCoopers, a “globally discredited” firm, to conduct a technical audit on the Ajaokuta Steel Company, meant that he was bent on concessioning the firm.
Following a motion moved by Ahmed Yarima (Bauchi-APC) and 24 others, the House pointed out that in other climes, passing a vote of no confidence on a minister was enough grounds for the President to sack him, adding that the House did not need to stress it.
Moving the motion, Yarima said the firm engaged to audit the steel company, PwC, is globally discredited, having been sanctioned in many countries, including India which banned it for two years for infractions of over $1 billion.
He said the firm was also sanctioned in Brazil and paid $50 million as fine, as well as being fined £5.1 million in the United Kingdom in the largest ever sanction imposed by the UK regulator.
“They paid $225 million and $25 million 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, blacklisted for roles in terrorism and human rights abuses; among other infractions and irregularities in their operations, which has left its reputation in tatters,” he said.
Yarima said there were allegations that the company was informally engaged by Global Steel to assist and advise it on how to recover Ajaokuta Steel Company and National Iron Ore Company, NIOMCO, Itakpe from the Nigerian government in 2012 at the onset of negotiations.
He added the company’s antecedents suggest it was engaged to audit and prepare a skewed report in favour of parties the Minister has interest or of its former clients, GINL.
“The Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission both mandated by law under the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act, 2005 and the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act 2004, respectively have not been involved or engaged in the audit and concessioning process adopted by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development,” he stated.
Yarima alleged that Fayemi also appointed as transaction adviser, Greenwich Trust Ltd, a firm he said is headed by the wife of the minister’s political mentor, without the input of BPE and ICRC.
He said the minister also turned down other options suggested for the steel complex other than concessioning.
“Almost two years since NIOMCO, Itakpe was again handed over to Global Steel in the so-called modified concession agreement for a seven-year period with an option of a further 10 years, the plant which is integrated with Ajaokuta Steel Complex has remained moribund, which signposts the likely failure of yet another concession,” the lawmaker stated in his motion.
Adopting the motion, the House mandated its ad-hoc committee on Ajaokuta Steel Complex to include the urgent consideration of the possibility of a Bill for an Act to Provide for the Completion of Ajaokuta Steel Company and Prohibit the Concessioning thereof prior to its Completion.
It also resolved to expand the mandate of the ad-hoc committee to further inquire into why Mr. Fayemi engaged a globally-discredited firm, in auditing Ajaokuta Steel Complex without due process and in spite of the fact that the firm had been indicted and punished in many jurisdictions.
The committee was also mandated to inquire into the nature of the conflict of interest that may have arisen on account of the minister appointing a firm headed by wife of political mentor to serve as transaction adviser for the complex.
The Green Chambers however urged President Muhammadu Buhari to stop Fayemi from proceeding further with concessioning processes of the steel complex, pending a review ordered by the House.
Newsworth recalls that the minister and the House of Representatives have repeatedly disagreed on government’s plan to concession the oldest uncompleted steel company in the country.
The Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, had after visiting Ajaokuta said the reason the steel company not been completed was leadership problem, saying sourcing about $500million estimated to be required to complete the company should not be a problem.
Dogara said the required fund could be sourced through the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Excess Crude Account and recovered financial crimes loots.
He said even if it means borrowing the money, the House would give its approval for the coy to become functional.