“Ajaokuta Steel Company hub of Nigeria industrialisation”. — Prince Audu, Minister Steel Dev.
IDRIS AHMED, Lokoja.
To industrialize Nigeria, the Ajaokuta Steel Company should be resuscitated, Minister of Steel Development, Prince Shuaibu Abubakar-Audu, has revealed.
Abubakar-Audu, who was on his maiden visit to the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, (ASCOL) on Wednesday, promised that the production of steel from the multi-billion dollar investment project of the Federal Government under a three-year plan will be a reality.
The Minister, accompanied by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Mary Ogbe, Staff of the Ministry, and some foreign investors, said the visit was to have a first-hand knowledge of the problems that led to the failure of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, so as to proffer solutions.
According to him, Ajaokuta Steel Company, when fully resuscitated, would provide jobs to over 500,000 Nigerians and that could ameliorate unemployment and poverty in the country.
The Minister commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the vision to revamp the Ajaokuta Steel Company and create the Steel Development Ministry, which was rendered dormant for over 40 years.
He revealed that Ajaokuta Steel plant is the largest in West Africa which has been rendered redundant and wasteful to the nation.
Prince Audu maintained that part of the critical agenda of ‘Renewed Hope’ of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, include job creation, diversification of the economy and to attract Foreign Direct Investment.
“To achieve these, we have put together two documents. A three-year plan for the revival of Ajaokuta Steel Company which will have a Small and Medium Term Plan.
“Part of the things is the roadmap to designate the 24,000 hectares land of Ajaokuta an Industrial Park, to create a Free Trade Zone that will further attract Foreign Direct Investment,” he said.
The Minister also assured that all those typical issues that held back the plant from production will be resolved, and by the first term of the administration, if he is able to produce some sheet of steel, it will be a significant achievement.
“I have taken an extensive tour of the complex and plants, and there are lots of opportunities that if we are able to unlock we will be able to create over 500,000 jobs, which ill benefit kogites a bit more importantly, Nigerians.
”This will also guarantee that everyone benefits from the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu,” Audu said.
Audu disclosed that the potential foreign investors and experts were on the tour with him and have shown interest in bringing FDI to unlock these potentials.
The Minister also disclosed that the investors will carry out an advanced technical audit of the steel complex and its facilities so see what more is to be done.
“We have the Russians, Americans, Arabs and Chinese who are showing interest. They have come to show their desire to carry out an advanced technical audit to see what needs to be completed.
“After my findings from here, we will forward everything to Mr President for his approval,” Audu said.
Audu said that in addition to the three-year plan, there was a five-year plan which would also see to ensuring the production of steel in other parts of the country.
Mr Sumaila Abdul-Akaba,
Sole Administrator and Chief Executive Officer, Ajaokuta Steel Company, Limited, thanked Mr President for reviving the hope of Nigerians by making Ajaokuta a priority.
Abdul-Akaba also commended Prince Audu for his great vision and plans in reviving the company, noting that Ajaokuta is a land of vast opportunities.
Mr Jalil Hkoodshoev, a Foreign Investor from Novostal-M Company in Russia, lauded the initiatives of Mr. President in reviving the company.
Hkoodshoev noted that with what they had seen on ground, they are very interested in investing in the company.
He added that the resuscitation of the company would be a big impact not only to Nigeria, but the entire West Africa, and the African region in general.