Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
The Federal Government has begun moves to restart the Ajaokuta Steel Company which has been inactive for over four decades.
This is as the Ministries of Works and Steel Development have resolved to synergise and strategise in tapping into the opportunities in Ajaokuta Steel Plant for the development of road infrastructure in Nigeria.
These were part of the outcome of the inter-ministerial meeting between the Minister of Works, Sen David Umahi and Minister of Steel Development, Shuaib Audu.
The meeting held on Tuesday at the Office of the Hon Minister of Works, Federal Ministry of Works, Headquarters, Mabushi, Abuja.
A statement by Orji Uchenna Orji, Chief Press Secretary to Sen Umahi, said the meeting is in keeping with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
He noted that the President is doing everything possible to reverse the ugly trend of Nigeria’s developmental history and revolutionise national economic development within the shortest period of time.
“The far reaching resolutions of the two Ministers underscored the imperative of coordination, cooperation, coherence, and complementarity in the execution of Federal Government’s action plans for national development,” the statement said.
The statement quoted Mr Umahi as stating that the Ministry of Steel Development would play a major role in the road infrastructure revolution plan envisioned by Mr President by providing more than 16% of the materials needed for the construction of Nigeria’s roads on concrete pavement.
He said that tapping into the opportunities in Steel Industry would not only create jobs and wealth for Nigeria’s population, it would also create a global market and encourage industrialisation.
“How do we reactivate Ajaokuta Steel. We are going into concrete road, in this concrete road, about 16 percent of it is from Steel while 30 percent is cement . We need a lot of money to start but we decided to face it and God has given us an idea, we need about 35 billion dollars to start.
“If we start waiting for FG it might become difficult. We did Return On Investment (ROI), the profit we could have made, part of it will go to bank interest; we are looking at commercial banks but Federal Executive Council has to endorse it.
“If this could be done it means Mr President is actually living to his words and this is going to be possible,” he said.
The Minister of Works also commended the Minister of Steel Development for his efforts in developing the steel sector, noting that steel industry is the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialisation and the backbone that stimulates national development and economic boost for the industrial growth of any nation.
He assured the Hon. Minister of Steel Development that his Ministry would work collaboratively in his efforts of enhancing the potentialities of Ajaokuta Steel Plant – the largest Steel Mill in Nigeria.
“Mr President never made a mistake in his appointment, I call him a Divine President, and the most important thing is that our eyes are on the job.”
The Minister continued: “One of the renewed hope agenda of Mr President is to think outside the box, Mr President inherited a large shunk of debt from the past administration.
“The beauty about it is that he is not complaining, he knew how the country was before he took the job and how it is. The good thing is that if you have passion for something God will give you an idea,” Umahi added.
The Minister of Steel Development, Shaibu Audu said the meeting was robust and incisive.
“My mission is a wonderful one, I had a fantastic meeting initiated by the Hon. Minister of Works. We are seriously thinking outside the box to see how we can implement the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr President.
“What we came to discuss here is how to restart Steel production at Ajaokuta Steel Plant. The Hon Minister of Works has made it very clear that the Federal Government is looking to develop over 30,000 kilometers of road and a large component of that will be from Steel wrought, and percentage of that Steel wrought will be produced in Ajaokuta.
“We came to have a discussion on how to implement the process for producing it in Ajaokuta within the shortest possible time.”
The Hon. Minister of Steel Development emphasised the importance of the initiative by both ministers.
He expressed hope that it would provide the needed economic boost for the nation, generate revenue and provide thousands of direct jobs for skilled and non- skilled technicians and hundreds of thousands of unskilled jobs in Nigeria.
“And we are to achieve 2 or 3 three things, one to create job opportunity for Nigerians as a whole; two, to ensure that the corridor around the North Central Zone and around the Ajaokuta Warri axis is busy with activities.
“Thirdly, the plant has been inactive for close to four decades and we are here to restart the plant within the shortest possible time,” he said.