The House of Representatives’ Committee on Steel has called on the relevant ministry and agencies of the Federal Government to ensure the revival of the Ajaokuta steel mill in Kogi State.
The Chairman of the committee, Abdullahi Halims, made the call while leading members on an oversight visit to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in Abuja on Friday.
Halims noted that the facility, when it became fully operational, would contribute to the growth of Nigeria significantly. He added that the facility would create jobs, which would consequently help in addressing the issue of insecurity arising from the unemployment of the youths.
He said, “To be succinct and precise, the purpose of this oversight/inspection is to see how the workers of the ministry are fairing, gather information, identify challenges, build synergy and to look for ways to resolve issues that need government input through legislative actions. Nigeria today faces enormous challenges in human, social and economic development. The increasing level of violence and insecurity and the deepening poverty and inequalities are demoralising but also capable of inspiring action amongst political leaders.
“As we all know, the country is enmeshed in political activities geared towards shaping the nation for the better. Nevertheless, visits like this also broaden the horizon of political gladiators to see how government agencies through budgetary releases can foster and build confidence in our teeming youth through legislative engagements.
“I would want to urge and encourage the ministry to work closely with the committee. That way, together we can explore more opportunities for positive growth.”
The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Gbemisola Saraki, decried that steel was not being manufactured in the country. She stated that the ministry was committed to working with relevant authorities to ensure it delivered on its mandate.
The Federal Executive Council had in April approved the engagement of transaction advisors for consultancy services for the concession of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited.
The approval also involved the National Iron Ore Mining Complex in Itakpe, Kogi State.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Mines and Steel, Olamilekan Adegbite, after the FEC meeting, said the move breathed an air of hope in the long-abandoned piece of infrastructure.
Mohammed said, “Council approved the engagement of transaction advisors for consultancy services for the concession of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and also the National Iron Ore Mining Complex in Itakpe in favour of Messrs CPCS Transform Consortium in the sum of N853,266,644.4 inclusive of 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax.
“I am sure we are all familiar with the history of the Ajaokuta Steel complex. The contract was awarded in 1979 to a Russian company called the TPE. By the end of 1983, the contract had reached advanced stage. Regrettably, since then it has been suffering and by 1994, the TPE demobilised from site and in 1996, the contract was terminated.
“Subsequently, various administrations have tried to revive the Ajaokuta Steel Company without much success. However, you will recall that Mr President was on a state visit to Russia on October 22 and 24, 2019, and here it was resolved that the Ajaokuta Steel Company, which the Federal Government has made a massive investment, must be resuscitated.”
The PUNCH had reported in May that steelmakers were skeptical about the planned concession of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited after Nigeria imported iron, steel, and metals valued at N837.761 billion in the third and the fourth quarters of 2021.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Africa’s most populous nation brought in basic metals, iron and steel products with 6000mm in width, rolled, painted, varnished, and coated with plastics within the six-month period.
The total value of basic metal products imported within the two quarters was N748.529bn, while that of iron and steel was N88.232bn.
This was happening after the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria estimated that the country had spent over $8bn on the idle steel plant so far.