Iheanacho Nwosu and Magnus Eze, Abuja
The rift between the House of Representatives and the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development took a new dimension yesterday, as the Minister, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said he may not honour invitation by the lower chamber again, on Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) in Kogi State.
He particularly described the no confidence vote passed on him and the Minister of State, Hon. Bawa Bwari, as unbecoming, unwarranted and unfounded. Fayemi stated this at a press conference in his office to clarify issues regarding the House move against him.
The House of Representatives recently passed a no confidence vote on the two ministers, following their inability to address the lawmakers on the state of affairs in the steel sector, especially on Ajaokuta Steel.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara during the plenary had explained that the minister only wrote to them two days to the programme to say that he would not honour their invitation because of other official duties.
But explaining his own side of the story, Fayemi said he was shocked that the House could take such step, even when he had been cooperating with them on the issue of Ajaokuta Steel Company and his ministry, generally. He enumerated up to four times that he had to appear before different committees including, the Ethics and Privileges and Privatisation Committees.
“Now that the House has said it has no confidence in me and officials of the ministry; I may not honour summon or invitation by the House on the matter,” he stated.
On whether by this, it could be taken that communication had irretrievably broken down between him and the House; he said no, explaining that the lawmakers were yet to formally communicate the ministry on the said vote of no confidence.
He said: “We haven’t even been communicated what the whole thing is all about, except what we saw or read in the media. But when they communicate us officially, we will know how to respond.”
The minister said there was no need for brickbats between them, pointing out that whatever actions taken by either side was in the interest of the nation.
Giving details of going on in Ajaokuta Steel, Fayemi disclosed that the technical audit report on the steel company will be ready in six weeks.
According to him, the report will determine next step to be taken regarding the concessioning of the company, as it will be used for technical bids.
The former Ekiti governor emphasised that while the ministry was doing its best to revamp the nation’s comatose steel sector, he would not allow his reputation to be dragged to the mud.