Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development says the Federal Government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that Ajaokuta Steel Company becomes fully operational in the next two years.
Adegbite said this on Friday in Ajaokuta during a tour of the steel complex, the minister commended the staff of the company for ensuring the security and maintenance of the facilities.
“The plants are there and some of them are fully functional, the only reason Ajaokuta is still here, is because the staff are being paid salaries over the years.”
“They have not only ensured that the plants are here, but they also ensured their maintenance and functionality,” he said.
According to Adegbite, though the workshops are functioning, the desire of the Federal Government is to upgrade the facility to manufacturing and production of materials for possible export.
He said that the Federal Government would collaborate with the African Export-Import Bank and the Russia Export Centre to ensure that the steel plant was rehabilitated for full capacity operations.
The Federal Government had allocated N3.796 billion to the Steel Plant in the 2020 Budget and was counting on Russia to get the complex running optimally.
An accord to revive the Ajaokuta project was reached at a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia in October.
The partnership is expected to help get sections of the factory to begin full production before the end of 2019.
Nigeria’s rich deposit of iron ore, mostly in Kogi where the steel company is located, makes steel a viable target for the government’s revenue campaign can develop other industries.
If operational, the steel plant could provide nearly a million jobs for unemployed Nigerians.
Adegbite said the Federal Government strives to diversify the nation’s economy to the mining and steel sector.
He added that the revitalisation of Ajaokuta Steel Plant was of utmost concern to the Federal Government.
The minister and his entourage visited the Blast Furnace, Sinter Plant, Steel Making Workshop, Metallurgical Training Centre, and Medium Section and Structural Mill which comprised the Steel Plant.
The minister also inspected the Captive Power Plant and the Permanent Water Intake which supplies water to the mills and other parts of the complex.
Mr Suru Babajide, the General Manager, Engineering Works and Services Department of the Steel Plant who conducted the minister round the facility, said the complex had heavy-duty machines that could produce any kind of metal material.
The plant, conceived in 1976, was aimed at establishing a metallurgical process plant/engineering complex with other facilities.
It is on 24,000 hectares of land in Ajaokuta, 38km from Lokoja.
The company is meant to generate important upstream and downstream industrial and economic activities that are critical to the industrialisation of Nigeria.
The plant tagged “Bedrock of Nigeria’s Industrialisation’’, is also designed to produce iron and liquid steel from mines at Itakpe, in Kogi, some 52km from Ajaokuta.
The project has achieved over 90 per cent completion.
- Toheeb Jaiyeola is a graduate of Kwara state university, Malete. He is a versatile journalist with interest in Health, Politics and Environment.