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Three Russian firms, eight others bid for Ajaokuta steel company

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Eleven companies are currently bidding for the concession of the Ajaokuta steel company, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, has said.

He said three of the bidders are Russian firms.

Adegbite disclosed this at the presentation of the achievements of his ministry during the 9th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s scorecard series,  held in Abuja on Thursday.

The minister said the Buhari government had been able to resolve all contending legal issues with the steel company and was in the concession process.

He also said the major issue with the company was the concession that was done in 2005 by former president Olusegun Obasanjo to Global Steel, which resulted in litigation and a demand of $7 billion by the company.

“One of the major albatross on Ajaokuta was the concession that occurred under former President Olusegun Obasanjo to Messers Global Steel Industries,” he said.

“Things went sour and they took us to court. The court case went on for about 12 years, but thanks to a patriotic Nigerian lawyer in the United Kingdom who handled the case very effectively.

“Global steel came with a demand of $7 billion, but our lawyer was able to puncture holes in their case, and at the end, they had to settle for $496 million.”

According to Adegbite, the judgement was favourable to Nigerians.

There had been issues around the payment of $496 million to Global Steel — years after the firm gave up all claims.

The minister also said the current administration had plans to make Ajaokuta Steel Company functional before the end of 2022, but for the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He, however, said that the government was still committed to ensuring that the company was given out through a concession to a competent bidder with technical and financial capacities to optimise its potential.

“We were supposed to make the plant work in 2022. One of the presidential mandates was to resolve all contending issues on Ajaokuta,” he added.

“In 2019, at the Russian-Africa summit in Moscow, President Muhammadu Buhari discussed the idea of resuscitating Ajaokuta with President Vladimir Putin.

“An agreement was reached for Russian engineers to come in for a technical audit by March 2020.

“But the emergence of the first and second waves of COVID-19 stalled the plan.

“We hope that we can give Ajaokuta to a company, not just on a concession basis, but on equity participation.”

Adegbite further said out of the 11 companies bidding, adding that three of the companies were Russian.

“We are talking of companies who intend to bring their own money into Ajaokuta to make sure that it works,” the minister said.

“The plant is still good if we put in the right amount of capital, it will start producing in less than two years.

“Government has employed a transaction adviser who will guide us through the process.”

Business

Pay customers with N100, N50, CBN orders commercial banks

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The Central Bank Of Nigeria has directed all commercial banks to pay customers over the counter in N100, N50, N20, N10, and N5 notes, regardless of the amount withdrawn.

Bankers Committee issued the directives to all commercial banks in the country on Monday, and announced the discontinuation of old notes payment of N1000, N500 and N200 across the counters.

It also urged people to use their alternative channels for transactions, while those insisting on new naira notes were advised to use Automated Teller Machine (ATMs).

The directives came on Monday, following a meeting of the bankers committee in Lagos.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, in a statement on Sunday extended the deadline for old naira notes from January 31 to February 10, 2023.

Emefiele also noted that he obtained permission from President Muhmammadu Buhari to effect the extension.

According to him, the extension, ‘a seven-day grace period’ was as a result of measures put in place to ease the scarcity.

The decision is coming after CBN had previously insisted that it would not extend the deadline.

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Famous 4×4 Grenadier coming to Nigeria, courtesy Coscharis Motors

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Coscharis Motors has announced its readiness to introduce the popular rugged off-road vehicle, Grenadier, to the Nigerian auto market.

This follows the naming of the auto company by INEOS Automotive as its official retail partner in Nigeria.

Nigeria is the sixth market in Sub-Sahara Africa to join the brand after South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana.

A statement on Monday by Abiona Babarinde, the auto firm’s General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Communications, said, “The first Grenadier demonstrator vehicles are expected to arrive in Nigeria in early 2023 with customer deliveries expected to commence within the first quarter.

“All after-sales servicing will be conducted at a dedicated workshop also located in Lagos.”

Commenting on this partnership, the President/CEO of Coscharis Group, Dr Cosmas Maduka, said, “We are proud that INEOS Automotive has appointed Coscharis Motors to represent its brand in Nigeria. “This milestone marks another step in the evolution of our company. With our history and experience of the Nigerian market, we know that the INEOS Grenadier is going to be a serious player in the off-road segment.

“We have no doubt that the Grenadier has what it takes to handle Africa’s tough terrain and that it is the perfect option to meet the specific demands of those who need a capable, refined, and reliable off-road vehicle in the region. We look forward to the first customer test drives and hearing public feedback, because this vehicle is definitely going to stir things up in Nigeria.”

The statement quoted Tim Abbott, INEOS Automotive’s Head of Region South Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa, as saying, “We are carefully selecting our partners across the SSA region, to find people who know their local market and customers, and also understand our brand.

“Coscharis Motors shares our belief that the INEOS Grenadier is the perfect vehicle not only for Nigeria, but for the continent. Our shared passion for off-roading, along with their excellent reputation in the automotive industry, makes it the perfect partnership for Grenadier in Nigeria.”

Coscharis says the Grenadier has been developed to be refined on the road and extraordinarily capable off-road.

“The Grenadier is powered by a choice of two straight-six, 3.0-litre BMW engines. Both the BMW B57 diesel and B58 petrol powertrains have a proven track record, regularly appearing in top ten world’s best engine lists since 2016. They have been used in everything from sports cars to SUVs.

“The two power units bring BMW’s sophistication and refinement to the Grenadier, but they have been enhanced by INEOS Automotive’s engineering team. As well as providing powerful acceleration on tarmac, they also deliver peak torque at low revs – sustaining it through the rev range – for optimal off-road performance,” it states.

It also notes that the carefully calibrated characteristics help the driver to confidently manage the vehicle’s momentum and grip without stressing the engine, ensuring full control when tackling tricky terrain.

It adds, “The refined turbo petrol engine produces 286PS (210kW) and 450Nm (332 lb ft) of torque, while the twin-turbo diesel generates 249PS (183kW) and 550Nm (406 lb ft), for even greater pulling power. Start/stop is built-in, increasing range and preserving air quality when the vehicle is stationary.

“While it is every inch a rugged 4X4, it ticks all the right boxes on the road, too. The chassis combines a five-link suspension setup with Brembo brakes and Bridgestone tyres, meaning the Grenadier is composed, well- mannered and fun to drive no matter what the terrain.”

The firm also reveals that by the end of this year, INEOS Automotive plans to have a network of more than 200 sales and service sites for the Grenadier spanning over 50 countries, including established dealer groups, 4X4 specialists and agricultural equipment dealers.

 

 

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UBA names Abiola Bawuah as first female CEO

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The United Bank for Africa Plc on Monday announced the appointment of Abiola Bawuah as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

It said Bawuah would also join the group board as an executive director, overseeing the vroup’s operations across the African continent, outside Nigeria.

A statement by the bank disclosed this, adding that Bawuah, a Ghanaian national, is the first female CEO of UBA Africa.

It stated, “Her appointment further demonstrates UBA’s commitment to diversity. The UBA Group Board now includes eight female Directors.

“Prior to her appointment, Mrs Bawuah was Regional CEO, West Africa, supervising the Group’s operations in nine subsidiaries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. She previously held the role of CEO, UBA Ghana.”

Speaking on the new appointment, the Group Board Chairman, Tony Elumelu, said, “Abiola has contributed significantly to the growth of UBA Africa for close to a decade. She brings a wealth of experience in commercial banking and stakeholder engagement. It also gives me great pleasure that with her appointment, the UBA Group Board has now become a majority female board.”

The UBA Group also announced Chris Ofikulu as the Regional CEO, UBA West Africa.

Ofikulu has over two decades of banking experience spanning corporate, commercial, and retail banking.

UBA operates in 19 African countries beyond Nigeria, in addition to global operations in New York, London, Paris and the UAE, according to the statement.

 

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