Engr. Dele Omoluwa Osun
Whether Natasha Akpoti’s exciting dramas on Federal Government’s on-going reforms in the steel sector and particularly the Ajaokuta Steel Company is motivated by monetary gains as alleged by the Association of Small Scale Steel Marketers and Scrap Dealers of Nigeria (ASSSMSDN), to attract public attention to herself or sentimental patriotism, it has become clear that Natasha is at the wrong place.
It is quite acceptable in Nigeria and all over the world that citizens adopt advocacy to draw the attention of government to the feelings of the people on official policies as well as get feedback from the people. But it is more acceptable if such advocates speak on issues they are familiar with and equipped with basic facts and figures on issues they have interest in.
The reason is that public or citizens’ advocacy, if and when misapplied, has the potency to mislead the people as well as become a tool for blackmail with the aim of arm twisting authorities to take action in favour of the advocates and their hidden interests. This is what Natasha’s actions are turning out to be.
For example, Natasha is said to be a lawyer by profession with no prior knowledge or experience on both steel making and what qualifies an organisation to operate a steel plant. Her claim that her father worked with Ajaokuta Steel Company some years back neither qualifies her as a steel engineer nor did it confer her with the expertise to speak (authoritatively) as she is doing on steel matters.
It has become obvious therefore, that rather than give basic facts and figures to back her claims, Natasha most times only repeats old clichés on the history of Ajaokuta Steel Company in particular, drawing her story from materials on the internet, most times contradicting, herself. It may also be for her lack of basic information and facts on steel matters that Natasha often resorts to abuse and insult anybody, no matter how highly placed including past presidents, former and serving ministers, and especially Dr. Kayode Fayemi and His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello.
For example, is Natasha aware that according to the bilateral agreement between Nigeria and the defunct Union of Soviet States Republic (USSR) Ajaokuta Steel Company was a gift to Nigeria from the Soviets as a way of gaining the support of Africa’s most populous nation at the epic period of the cold war between the United States and Soviet Union?
Has Natasha bothered to find out why Nigeria rather paid several billions of Dollars to the Steel fabricating consortium called TPE over a project that was meant to be a gift?
Is Natasha aware that the technology her so called Russian (defunct Soviet Union) friends imposed on Nigeria was already 20 years old when they came to Ajaokuta in 1979 and therefore almost 50 years today? The existing technology in Ajaokuta is outdated with its Soviet equipments totally obsolete. To successfully operate Ajaokuta today, you need to completely overhaul and modify the various plants to meet modern technology needs.
Is Natasha aware that her so called Russian friends from the beginning designed Ajaokuta to fail? Maybe she is not aware that Ajaokuta is the first steel plant in the world that is landlocked? Steel plants are sited near major waterways to make it easy for equipments and other material to be shipped to the plants.
If we add the above to the statement by the Association of Steel and Scrap Marketers Association that Natasha is using the name of “Russian company” to front for the Vaswani brothers to take over Ajaokuta, her whole script becomes almost treasonable when one recalls that the Premium Steel and Mining Limited owned by the Vaswani’s took over Delta Steel Company Aladja over two years ago without producing one pin or add any value to the plant. The Vaswanis are currently stuck with over 70million US Dollars tax evasion in Nigeria.
Apart from her abuses and unwarranted provocations, Natasha often threatens to go to court against anybody or organisation that replied to her several innuendos as if she has the monopoly of public speaking. How can someone with such a negative audacity to speak ills of anybody without fear or even respect, be so adverse to criticism and feedback?
Up till today, Natasha has failed to properly explain the motivations for putting so much time, energy and money on the Ajaokuta campaign, since we know that ’nothing goes for nothing’, especially in Nigeria.
What about the questions posed to Natasha by one Nurudden Musa in his write up which among other things asked if she was aware that TPE was a consortium of companies from the over 21 countries of the defunct USSR which obviously makes it impossible for them to come back together to operate Ajaokuta.
There is also problem with patent of most of the equipments and spare parts and consumables in the Ajaokuta plant site as most were made either in Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Kiev or Russia while others like calibration and measurement instruments were manufactured in Germany.
Is Natasha aware that Nigeria does not have the original drawings and design certificates of Ajaokuta Steel as her so called Russian friends cleverly took them along with them with no definite trace of where or in which country out of the old Soviet Union to find the documents? Not even Russian President Vladimir Putin who Natasha often drinks coffee with, can boast of where to find the materials.
If Natasha cuts the picture of a humble woman who takes reasonable advice from people, one would have suggested that she take advantage of her pretty face and drama skills to find job in Nollywood where she would no doubt make a good actress. On Ajaokuta and steel making, she is obviously a square peg forcing herself into a round hole. It makes no sense at all.
Engr. Dele Omoluwa Osun writes from Dopemu Lagos: Email:[email protected]