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Ebira Traditional Council To Senate: Ignore Natasha’s Call For Probe Of Ajaokuta Steel, It’s Counterproductive

Ebira Traditional Council (ETC) in Kogi Central Senatorial District has called on the Senate to ignore the recent call by Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, representing the District in the Senate for a probe of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
In a long letter addressed to the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Traditional Council referred to the “recent events associated with actions of the Senator representing the People of Kogi Central, Senator Natasha Akpoti Uduaghan relating to a call for investigation of the two major federal government investments in Ebiraland.”
The Council quoted JC Maxwell as having said: “People are dynamic and must be led through love and relationship,” saying “this is what representative democracy also preaches and we make bold to state that her current effort was NOT discussed with critical stakeholders in the Senatorial District and neither were we consulted as people she represents and as our servant.”
The Council insisted that taking fundamental decision as this without inclusive consultations amounts to burning the bridge of democratic principles of consultations and that such action is not acceptable to them.
“We urge that she should not be encouraged, as this type of actions will scare away would be investors and it is counter productive.”
The Council, has a word of caution to other representatives of people, saying: “You all are bearing our MANDATES and you are expected to be our voice, but you must show responsiveness and collaboration.
“Our relationship should not be that of master-servant relationship but must be that of genuine ideas, genuine interface and sincere collaboration on not just our welfare but on all issues that bother on the economic development of our Land: Hence the issue of Ajaokuta Steel Plant and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe MUST be handled with caution, statesmanship, devoid of seeming personal interests and stoking of sentiments that may end up drawing us back.

Natasha Akpoti

“Your role should not be a matter of “We know it all” but that of consultations with us your constituents and custodians of the land and its values.
“The present global economic challenges which Nigeria is not immune to, calls for cautious acts and actions on your part while discharging your legislative duties on our behalf.
“Probes, Inquiries and Administrative/Legislative initiatives have been held on these two Companies in the last four (4) Civilian Administrations with various positions taken to no avail. We cannot continue to do one same thing all over the same way over and over and expect a different result
The full text of the letter is reproduced hereunder:
Our Ref: ETC/OFF/58/24
Ebira Area Traditional Council Ohinoyl’s Office, Okene, Kogi State.
29 February, 2024
His Excellency, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio CON Senate President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, National Assembly, Abuja.
*LET’S TAKE AJAOKUTA STEEL PLANT OFF CONTROVERCIES:*
The attention of the Ebira Area Traditional Council has been drawn to yet another ploy to drag Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe into another circle of unwarranted public outcry.
As traditional custodians of the People of Kogi Central and Ebtraland, it is our duty to call on Sons and Daughters of Ebiraland to avoid tendencies and actions that may appear to create a situation that might turn the hands of the clock away from the current efforts of the President, H.E Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration’s declared pursuit of the resuscitation and completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe.
The benefits of such honourable accomplishment are obvious and they include massive employment generation for our teaming youths, technological breakthrough and economic emancipation. We recall the bold steps of President Muhammadu Buhari which were rudely interrupted by the scourge of Covid-19 incursion and compounded by the Russia/Ukraine War outburst. It is logical that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR considers it a priority to revisit the twin Ajaokuta and Itakpe Projects for which our people would remain thankful.
It is important for us to remind both State actors, representatives of our people at different levels of governance and community representation of the sad state of these two important economic vehicles situated within our land which had in the past provided employment and economic development within Ebiraland and the Country at large while under active construction phase.
While we agree that people trusted with responsibilities of superintending on affairs of governance should be held accountable, this should be done with fairness and collective efforts as the overall intention should be that these Companies should work for the growth of the People and the nation.
It is important to note that recent events associated with actions of the Senator representing the People of Kogi Central, Senator Natasha Akpoti Uduaghan relating to a call for investigation of the two major federal government investments in Ebiraland calls for caution. JC Maxwell said “People are dynamic and must be led through love and relationship.” This is what representative democracy also preaches and we make bold to state that her current effort was NOT discussed with critical stakeholders in the Senatorial District and neither were we consulted as people she represents and as our servant.
Taking fundamental decision as this without inclusive consultations amounts to burning the bridge of democratic principles of consultations and this action is not acceptable to us. We urge that she should not be encouraged, as this type of actions will scare away would be investors and it is counter productive.
*AJAOKUTA STEEL AND NATIONAL IRON ORE MINING COMPANY, ITAKPE BEFORE NOW*
The history of these Companies in our Land has seen glory and trepidation. The best of the moments were between 1979 and 1983 during the era of Late President Shehu Shagari, whose government vernment took the project from scratch to a near completion stage in record time.
His administration showed commitment and carried everybody along and capped it up with the creation of a separate Ministry of Steel Development and the appointment of Late Mallam Mamman Ali Makele, an indigene of the State as Minister; a decision that made policy implementation on issues related to the development of Ajaokuta Steel Plant and Itakpe Iron Ore Mining Company easier and efficient. This is why we have a Place we now call a Steel Plant, though left uncompleted forty (40) years down the line.
Efforts of successive government before now left the Companies – Ajaokuta Steel and National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe in various controversies that are avoidable if every stakeholder is carried along as it was during the Shehu Shagari era.
These controversies never helped our case rather they frightened away genuine investors and even the Russians who built the Steel Plant, as no Investor would wish to be drawn into problems that may affect his business.
*PRESENT EFFORTS*
We as a People are glad to note the current efforts of the President, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Administration who has restored the Steel Development Ministry as a “Stand Alone” Ministry and has appointed once again an indigene of our State to drive its affairs in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr. President.
This new policy initiative is commendable and needs the support of every Son and Daughter of Ebiraland and Kogites. This period is therefore a period of collaboration of ideas, support of government initiatives on these two Companies, and above ALL it is a period to de-escalate controversies that may distract the Government, Stakeholders and would-be investors that may show interest in helping to give life to the Ajaokuta Dream.
*APPEAL TO OUR REPRESENTATIVES IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY*
Let us use this opportunity to congratulate all our Sons and Daughters who have the honour and privilege to represent us at the National Assembly.
You all are bearing our MANDATES and you are expected to be our voice, but you must show responsiveness and collaboration. Our relationship should not be that of master-servant relationship but must be that of genuine ideas, genuine interface and sincere collaboration on not just our welfare but on all issues that bother on the economic development of our Land: Hence the issue of Ajaokuta Steel Plant and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe MUST be handled with caution, statesmanship, devoid of seeming personal interests and stoking of sentiments that may end up drawing us back.
Your role should not be a matter of “We know it all” but that of consultations with us your constituents and custodians of the land and its values.
The present global economic challenges which Nigeria is not immune to, calls for cautious acts and actions on your part while discharging your legislative duties on our behalf.
Probes, Inquiries and Administrative/Legislative initiatives have been held on these two Companies in the last four (4) Civilian Administrations with various positions taken to no avail. We cannot continue to do one same thing all over the same way over and over and expect a different result.
*WE MUST CHANGE OUR TACTICS! WE MUST COLLABORATE!! WE MUST TALK TO ONE ANOTHER*
It should not be an issue of either heroism or without us it cannot work, because our collective focus, interest and goal is to make Ajaokuta Steel Plant work for the common good of Ebiraland, Kogi State and Nigeria in general.
*THE POSITION OF THE EBIRA AREA TRADITIONAL COUNCIL*
Our position therefore is that, our Legislators MUST cooperate with the Honorable Minister of Steel Development, the Management of the two Companies and Stakeholders to come up with workable positions and ideas that would strength the hand of His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR to ensure that Ajaokuta Steel Plant Works and should not work at cross purposes. After all, apart from the duties of Legislations, the National Assembly has the responsibilities of assisting the Executive in providing conductive and enabling environment for the growth and economic development of the nation. This can only be achieved through collaboration and constructive cross-fertilization of genuine ideas and not through combative and divisive approach.
We should not waste energy on issues/matters that are likely to create distrust, lack of interest that will become a scare-monger to both investors and the Governments.
*LET AJAOKUTA STEEL PLANT BE! LET NIOMCO BE…and LET EBIRALAND DEVELOP*
LET US GIVE PRESIDENT BOLA AHMED TINUBU GCFR THE CHANCE TO BE DIFFERENT ON MATTERS OF AJAOKUTA STEEL PLANT!!!
Please accept the assurances of our highest regards and blessings.
Yours faithfully,
HRH, MOHAMMED I. BELLO OHI OF ADAVI

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HRH, MUSA ISAH ACHUJA OHI OF EGANYI

HRH, AHMED O. ABDULRAHEEM OHI OF IHIMA

HRH, UMAR M. J. OPEWU OHI OF EIKA

HRH, ISAH O. MAMMAN OHI OF OKENE

Cc:

1. His Excellency,
Alh. Ahmed Usman Ododo
The Executive Governor of Kogi State, Government House, Lokoja.
2. Distinguished Senator Opeyemi Bamidele,
Senate Majority Leader, National Assembly, Abuja.
3. Distinguished Senator Dr. Jibrin Isah Echocho Senator Representing Kogi East Senatorial District, National Assembly, Abuja.
4. Distinguished Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan,
Senator Representing Kogi Central Senatorial District, National Assembly, Abuja.
5. Distinguished Senator Sunday Karimi, Senator Representing Kogl West Senatorial District, Kogi State.

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