Did Buhari bypass National Assembly as probe into Ajaokuta deal with Russian begins

The Ajaokuta deal President Muhammadu Buhari signed with Russia is under investigation after the House of Representatives queried the details of the deal. The partnership was sealed to resuscitate the Ajaokuta Steel Company which has been in a deplorable state for years, just as the House says such deal is not backed by law.

The probe was prompted by lack of details on the deal. This raises questions as to what was agreed upon, as there isn’t much information available for the public to vet. The lawmakers also intend to probe other agreements involving the Federal Government and other countries.

Nairametrics had reported that a proposal to rejig the services of the long-abandoned Ajaokuta Steel was tabled before the Federal Government by MetProm Group, a Russian firm. The company doesn’t just want to rehabilitate the steel mill, but also expressed a desire to maintain the steel mill when fully operational.

Reps request details for probe

According to the legislature, the reason for taking such action is to ensure the deals are in line with the constitution and not against it. And since little is known about the details of the Ajaokuta deal, the lawmakers have resolved to request the details of the agreement from the government.

This was after a unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Honourable Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, titled ‘Call for details of the agreement between Nigeria and Russia on the completion of the Ajaokuta steel company project.’ According to a Punch report, the House of Representatives directed the Committees on Steel, Treaties, Protocols and Agreements to interface with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, on the agreement.

Did Buhari bypass lawmakers? 

Although the 8th National Assembly passed the Ajaokuta Steel Completion Fund Bill in 2018, President Buhari didn’t assent to it after raising some concerns about it. The bill was later reviewed by the House and has already scaled first reading in the 9th House. However, Nkem-Abonta disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari signed a government-to-government agreement with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

The Russian government had signed on behalf of MetProm. And according to Nkem-Abonta, such agreement is not backed by the law, except the National Assembly enacts it into law. He said no treaty between the Nigerian government and other countries “shall have the force of law except to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly.”

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