For the first time since the sale of Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria, ALSCON, was marred by controversy, the United States Government has openly declared its interest in the matter, saying it wants the Nigerian Government to hand over the aluminium plant to the American company, BFI Group Divino Corporation, which won the bid to purchase the firm since 2004.
The Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, indicated last week that it was ready to allow BFI Group to move into the plant after the RUSAL might have named the amount of compensation to be paid to it following a Supreme Court order that the firm should vacate the plant immediately.
However, as the government continues to delay the handing over of ALSCON to BFI Group, the American Government has said it wanted the matter sorted out once and for all in the interest of the two countries.
A letter by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Terrence McCulley, to Vice President Namadi Sambo, who heads the National Privatisation Council of Nigeria, recalled the processes, which the American firm had painfully gone through to emerge as the preferred winner of the bid but was not allowed to complete the purchase.
The ambassador also drew Sambo’s attention to the meeting between the BFI Group and American Charge d’ Affaires, Lisa Piascik, and late President Shehu Yar’Adua on the matter in November 2007 and how the former President promised to review and resolve the matter.
The envoy noted in the letter, which Vanguard sighted last night, that it was intriguing that more than five years after the meeting, the matter was still not resolved.
He made it clear that even with the passage of time, the American firm was ready with the needed resources and technical facilities to undertake the rehabilitation of ALSCON as well as the dredging of Imo River as contained in the Shares Purchase Agreement, SPA.
The ambassador also declared that the firm was prepared to commit between $180 million to $200 million towards the dredging of the river and had secured the services of Port of Los Angeles, one of America’s busiest ports, to do the job without delay.
Vanguard learnt last night that the American government was even ready to guarantee more support and funding for the BFI group following the resolution Nigerian Supreme Court ruling giving the ownership of ALSCON to the firm.
A source said, yesterday, that a delegation from the US would soon arrive Nigeria in preparation for the formal handing over of ALSSON to BFI Group, as ordered by the apex court.
The management of RUSAL, which is yet to vacate the Akwa Ibom State-based plant, declined to comment on their exit date, when contacted last night.