EditorialBringing Life to Ajaokuta Steel Company

Bringing Life to Ajaokuta Steel Company

May 27, (THEWILL)- The latest move to bring life to the long-abandoned Ajaokuta Steel Company is worthy of commendation. The recent disclosure by the Minister of Steel Development, Shuaibu Audu, that the Federal Government was in the final stage of raising the required N35 billion  to restart the light mill section of Ajaokuta Steel Company is really heart-warming. .

Having been abandoned for years, despite the huge potential and its importance in revitalising the nation’s economy, no effort to resuscitate the project that has long been enmeshed in controversy should be seen to be too much. According to Audu, President Bola Tinubu had given a presidential approval to raise the amount from a local financial institution, as part of the administration’s determination to raise the country’s economic profile

“The local financial institution has given us a final offer. I have done a cover letter and forwarded the relevant documents to the Minister of Finance to be able to take the financing on behalf of the Federal Government,” the minister said, as he revealed the great potential in putting up the light steel mill section.

Glo

With the ability of the Light Steel Mill to produce 400,000 metric tonnes of iron rods per annum, which is critical in bolstering industrialisation in Nigeria, the minister said he was already liaising with the Minister of Works to supply the iron rods needed for road construction projects in the country from the section.

With a  Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) report showing that Nigeria currently imports $4.5 billion worth of steel, aluminium products and associated derivatives of approximately 25 metric tonnes every year,  the move to restart what had become Africa’s greatest failure is therefore worth the efforts.

“There are so many roads being constructed in the country, about 30,000km of roads across the six geo-political zones,” Audu said. “We understand that the Ministry of Works needs about seven million metric tonnes of iron rods over that four-year period to construct these roads, Ajaokuta can produce 400,000 tonnes.

The requirements for the massive roads construction being planned by the Federal Government in the next three years is just one, according to the minister, as plans are underway to get the buy-in of the minister of defence to also explore the steel mill in producing raw materials for military hardware.

“So what is required is that we have a Metallurgical Development Centre that has the ability to provide us with the lead and zinc required, to be able to provide and produce some of these military hardware,” Audu disclosed.

There is no doubt that the facility already on the ground at the Ajaokuta Steel Mill is massive. With a 68km road network and 24 housing estates already on the project, a seaport, and a 110mw power generation plant; Ajaokuta alone boasts 43 separate plants with the ability to create 500,000 jobs if it becomes operational.

But the estimated $2 billion or approximately N35 billion about to be spent on bringing life to Ajaokuta must be judiciously spent and not go the way of the unending rehabilitation and turnaround of the nation’s moribund refineries which have gulped billions of dollars with no commensurate result.

The Federal Government therefore has to reassure Nigerians on its avowed determination and sincere desire to make the Ajaokuta Steel Mill work this time around, despite the age-long odds and challenges that have crippled the laudable project for years.

 

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