Inauguration of the Presidential Project Implementation Team to revive the Ajaokuta Steel Company and ensure that the country’s long-standing desire for the much-needed strong iron and steel base for the industrialization of the country, is a most welcome development.
The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsuji and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, that setting up the Implementation Committee with high-calibre personalities shows a strong political will and genuine commitment of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to give the country’s growing industrial sector the steel and iron its needs for the fabrication of industrial machinery, machine tools and other equipment that would ultimately lead to the emergence of a diversified, strong and sustainable modern economy.
“The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who is chairing the Implementation Committee summed up the cost of neglecting the Company to Nigeria which the Buhari administration wants to end: ‘The Ajaokuta Steel plant has languished in economic unproductivity for about four decades and previous efforts at reviving it had proved abortive. This has resulted in avoidable massive foreign exchange losses at an intolerable opportunity cost to the country.”’
According to BMO: “indeed, as modern economies depend on adding value to primary products of various kinds, rapid and high volume freight of goods to where they are needed and the construction of durable structures which could only be done with equipment forged from iron and steel, Nigeria cannot afford to neglect the Ajaokuta steelworks, which is by design, Africa’s largest fully integrated steel producer, in its quest to accelerate industrialisation in steel-related industries”.
The group drew the attention of Nigerians to the reassuring point in the current strong push to make the steel company fully functional, that its resuscitation would be on the basis of a Government-to-Government agreement with funding from the Afrexim bank and the Russian Export Centre. The agreement was one of the outcomes of President Muhammadu Buhari’s participation in the Russia/Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia, hosted by his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.
“There is no doubt that given the record of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of completing important but previously abandoned projects like the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, the Itakpe-Warri rail project, the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Highway and the East-West road, Nigerians should expect Ajaokuta to function within the timeline in the implementation plan”.
The BMO assures Nigerians that by the time the steel company is fully resuscitated, its primary benefits will boost the development of the country’s nascent military-industrial complex; the emergence of a homegrown power equipment manufacturing; the development of a machine tool sector for sustainable industrial take-off; the fabrication of railway equipment in a proposed near-by factory and the achievement of a Nigerian car based on engine blocks, spares and body shell fabricated in the country. Shipbuilding yards will source their input locally, just as assembly plants for trucks and light vehicles will retool into full vehicle manufacturing companies.
“It is noteworthy that even at its current level of low performance and inadequate productivity, its sections have made spare parts for the cement industry, the Nigerian Railways Corporation, the crude oil refining plants and a host of others. Its complete revival will redouble its current productivity level, create new jobs for millions of Nigerians, reduce crime in the country, fuel economic activities in host communities and end the wasteful idleness of the complex for good.
“A functional Ajaokuta Steel Company will certainly have massive ripple effects on the national economy by supporting the drive for agricultural transformation through mechanization and turn the mining industry into a lucrative sector with capital equipment sourced locally and at a lower cost.
“The Buhari Media Organisation encourages members of the Implementation Committee to see the assignment as a national honour, and taking it to a logical conclusion will make them national heroes who assisted a focused and genuinely sincere President to leave one of the most important life-time legacies any leader would wish to leave behind for the younger generation and for posterity”, the group added.