- ‘ Cases of rape rise to 84% in Nigeria’
- Dana air crash update: 23 aircrash victims’ families yet to receive compensation
- Mimiko inaugurates new Mother & Child hospital today
- N4.56b pension scam: Female accused hospitalised,trial stalled
- Construction workers hail FG’s decision on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
- Blackout looms as Egbin power plant breaks down
- FMBN, NEXIM, BOA, IB lose N47bn in 6 months - CBN
- FirstBank wins Nigerian Bank of the Year award
- PDP tackles ACN over Tukur’s comments
- Electricity workers threaten strike over Wamakko
- ‘NDIC prosecuted 55 directors, staff of micro finance banks in 2011’
- Judgment in Oni’s appeal stalled, re-fixed for Jan 8
- Slain banker: Deceased had only 3 wounds -Accused’s father
- Appointments: S/West not marginalised —FCC
Fresh moves to revive Ajaokuta Steel Company
The Ajaokuta Steel Project in Nigeria has been epileptic almost from conception, a reason it remains a still-birth several years after establishment. Yekini Jimoh writes on efforts by the state government to revive the company meant to catalyse the industrial growth of Nigeria.
Kogi State, which would today rank as one of the most industrialised states in sub-Sahara Africa, had the long-abandoned multibillion naira Ajaokuta Steel Project completed and put under optimal use by the Federal Government. This is bound to create an atmosphere for industrialisation that is a catalyst for progress and development of a country. The Ajaokuta Steel Project, located on a wide expanse of land in Ajaokuta Local Government Area of Kogi State on the bank of the River Niger, has suffered some set-backs owing to neglect by successive governments of the federation, starting from the era of military rule. Corruption had also undermined efforts by the government to catalyse the country’s economy with the steel resource.
During his last presidential campaign in Kogi, President Goodluck Jonathan said he was set to make history by ensuring that the dream on Ajaokuta became a reality. The Ajaokuta Steel Project was established in September 1979 by the Federal Government to serve as a base for Nigeria’s industrialisation. According to experts, the project was designed as an integrated iron and steel complex, based on the conventional Blast Furnace (BF) route iron making and Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) for steel making. An engineer in the company confirmed that the project was embarked upon as a strategic industry and a foreign exchange earner which was expected to serve as a major industrial breakthrough for the nation.
He said apart from the foreign exchange and economic growth objectives, the steel complex was designed to generate a myriad of socio-economic benefits to Nigeria, such as increase in the production capacity of the nation through its linkage effects and supportive roles to industries. In addition, it was expected that the project would greatly contribute to the achievements of other socio-economic goals of the nation, such as provision of materials for infrastructure development, technology acquisition, employment generation, training of labour, income distribution and regional development.
As stakeholders continue to mount pressure on the Federal Government to complete the rehabilitation of the moribund steel company, the management of the company has also said the advantages of the plant cannot be over-emphasised. The Ajaokuta Integrated Steel Complex was conceived and steadily developed with the vision of erecting a metallurgical process plant and engineering complex that could be used to generate important upstream and downstream industrial and economic activities that were critical to the diversification of the economy into an industrial economy. According to the ASCL branch chairman of the Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ISSSAN), Comrade Abdulkareem Jimoh, the thermal power plant of the company is capable of generating 110MW of electricity per day which can service three states in the country. He said when the plant was in operation, the company was selling in excess to the national grid. This he said was a source of revenue generation to the company.
However, it is sad to note that after 40 years, the above objectives have not been realised due to what Comrade Salami Momoh Jimoh, National President of Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria (SEWUN), termed lack of focus on the part of successive governments, mismanagement, corruption and, above all, external forces like the World Bank and other supper powers, who he said, wanted to make Nigeria a perpetual dumping ground for their steel products. According to him, suggestions of World Bank and their commissioned agents like the Hatch Associates, that the steel project be discontinued are designed to ensure that the Ajaokuta Steel project remains at project stage perpetually. He added that General Ibrahim Babangida, a former Nigerian Head of State,threw caution to the wind by even appointing a military man, Air Commander Ndasu Muhammed Umar, in 1990 to head the Ajaokuta Steel Company. The period, according to him, witnessed the collapse of production in the completed rolling mills and the fund of the project went down the drains.
The steel company did not fare any better during the eight years of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. Today, the company is in a dilemma. Workers are owed accumulated months of salary arrears and allowances. Business activities have paled to insignificance, with very little attention from the Federal Government, until the advent of the present administration.
Experts have argued that if the Vision 20:2020 of President Jonathan is to be realised, the steel sector must be properly taken care of, particularly the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Government must come out with definite policy on what it wanted to do with the project, particularly in the area of funding. The president must also begin to realise that no country would help Nigeria to develop its steel which is to be the hub of the nation’s industrialisation.
President Goodluck Jonathan must take the bull by the horns by approving substantial amount of money for the completion of the ailing steel industry considered to be one of the largest in Africa. His name would definitely go into history if he is able to do what his predecessors could not do, going by the general impression. The Kogi State governor, Captain Idris Wada, is already making efforts to ensure the repositioning of the state, in terms of industrialisation.
Wada, some weeks ago, opened discussions with the government of Australia through the Nigeria Trade and Investment Company, on the abandoned Ajaokuta Steel Company as well as the Itakpe Iron Ore Mining Company.
A preliminary meeting, which took place in Abuja between the Kogi State government and the Australian government had Mr Hugh Morgan, Chairman of the Australia-Nigeria Trade and Investment, leading his delegation to the talks hosted by Governor Idris Wada.
The meeting, which lasted about two hours, explored various possibilities on how to resuscitate the two companies that hold the key to the future industrialisation of the African continent. Wada told newsmen after the meeting of his preparedness to partner with the company “with a view to developing agriculture and tourism.” The Kogi helmsman stated that solid mineral development would serve “as an effective alternative to the nation’s income generation efforts, as well as the nation’s dependence on oil.
“If we are able to tap our mineral resources effectively, I can assure you it will make dependence on oil to be less. Kogi State is the luckiest state in the country to have the largest solid mineral deposits. My administration would create an enabling environment for all investors to tap into these resources for the benefit of the people of our state.”
Wada also promised to provide the necessary security needed by the investors to operate in the state.
Speaking before the commencement of the meeting, Mr Morgan stated that his meeting with Governor Wada was to explore the possibilities of partnership with the state government for the development of the mining and steel industry, adding that “ Australia has several reputable companies operating in Africa in the area of solid mineral development”.Share