The House of Representatives has begun an investigation of the collapse of the Delta Steel Company built with $1.89bn.
The lawmakers are also investigating why the 10 per cent of the mining proceeds has not been paid to the host community.
At the plenary on Wednesday, a member of the House from Delta State, Ben Igbakpa, moved a motion titled ‘Need to Investigate the Collapse of the Delta Steel Company,’ which the House unanimously adopted and mandated the Committees on Steel and Works to carry out the probe.
The committees were specifically asked to “conduct an investigation of the sale and the subsequent failure of Premium Steel and Mines Limited to put the steel company into operations.”
The panel is to make recommendations on measures to ensure its resuscitation within the shortest possible time, within four weeks, for further legislative action.
Igbakpa said, “Delta Steel Company Plc, Oviwian-Aladja, Udu Local Government Area of Delta State was built on 172 hectares of land at the cost of $1.89bn and was established to be the flagship of the steel industry in West Africa, and the Nigerian dream of industrialisation with the capacity to provide jobs for thousands of Nigerians.
“At the peak of its glory, Delta Steel complex was a beehive of activities by men and machines, labouring day and night at various units, where blazing fire and thick smoke escaped non-stop into the huge sky of Ovwian-Aladja towns in the course of producing over 200,000 metric tonnes of liquid steel and supplying materials for inland rolling mills at Osogbo, Jos, Katsina including Ajaokuta Steel Industry.
“The House is disturbed that nearly four decades after its commissioning, decline set in and the steel giant started in 1982 to totter due to bad government decisions and dishonest corporate governance perpetrated by corrupt civil servants, politicians and Indian businessmen; all at the expense of Nigerian taxpayers and the host communities.
“And by 1997, all the mills had lain comatose despite decades of funding by the Federal Government as a one-million tonne capacity steel plant billed to produce 950,000 metric tonnes of billets and 320,000 metric tonnes of rolled products could hardly produce a single billet and the foundry unit, which earlier produced spare parts for Peugeot Automobile of Nigeria in Kaduna, had long been closed down.”
According to the lawmaker, the story is different for other countries that embarked on a similar industrial journey with Nigeria, which he said had achieved their full capacity after few years of operations, such as Argentina that hit and surpassed installed capacity after seven years, Venezuela after 11 years, Egypt after six years, Iran after 10 years, Saudi Arabia after three years, India after seven years, while South Africa hit above 50 per cent after four years and has now become the highest steel producer in Africa.