By Ediale Kingsley
The Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has assured the management team of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and all the people of Kogi State that during his administration, the revival of the steel company would be concluded.
The governor said this while receiving the team, who visited him at his office in Government House, Lokoja, on Tuesday, 11th May, 2016. He said he was taking the issue of natural resources very seriously and would make concrete demands of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, and the Federal Minister for Mineral Resources, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, as it concerns the steel complex.
“I will go to Mr. President with practical solutions to the problems,” Governor Bello said. “I want to let him know all that is involved, who started it, where it is now, what is required to complete it, who should complete it, how funds can be sourced to complete it. I want to tell him everything needed and I will follow up on the matter until that place is up and running.”
Governor Bello praised the management team for keeping the place up since they were put in office. He said he would visit the facility himself within a week for an on-the-spot assessment.
The leader of the management team and Sole Administrator of the steel company, Engr. Isah Joseph, said there are 43 different companies within the facility. He said some of the companies could be put to productive use within a few months and that the plant be brought on stream with $500m.
“40 of the companies are 100% completed and can be put into operation in a few months. The greatest obstacle, and that is why the Russians who built the place left in 1994, is that of external infrastructure. They got the place to 98% completion and they kept asking the federal government, ‘How are we going to bring in the raw materials?’ We are supposed to have a rail line from Ajaokuta connecting to Oturpko to Onne where the coking coal can be imported. All we need is political will to do it.”
The Sole Adminmsitrator praised the courage of the young governor for his decision to confront the enemies of the project and see that the economy of Nigeria ends its dependency on oil.
“We seize this opportunity to congratulate you on your first 100 days in office which has been filled with positive action. We are very proud of you,” he said. “Indeed, the recent call by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar on the Northern Governors at the 50th Anniversary of the demise of the Late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto to take up the challenge of ensuring that Ajaokuta Steel Plant is completed to the glory of the North and Nigeria in general is a greater challenge to your administration; being the host Governor of the project.
“Your Excellency, with the state of the oil and gas industry today, the nation is crying for diversification of our economy from its mono-product driven nature. This is where Ajaokuta Steel Plant comes handy.”
The Special Adviser to the Kogi State Governor on Energy and Mineral Resources, Hon. Otayite Akerejola, said the Ajaokuta Steel Company holds immense promise for the economy of the state in particular and the national in general.
“The annual revenue generation from the project when commissioned will substantially impact on the internally generated revenue of the state. Okaba and Ogboyega coy deposits will also find ready markets at Ajaokuta and elsewhere in the country. Also, the planned rail link between Jakura to Eganyi will open up the limestone dolomite and other mineral deposits of the central and western senatorial district to Ajaokuta and other markets. These new rail networks will link Kogi State to the coastal ports and International markets. The direct impact of these gargantuan investments on the socio-economic life of Kogi State can therefore only be imagined as upstream, downstream and spin-off industries will spring up in the entire state and even to over 400km radius from Ajaokuta. Thus from Idah to Ankpa to Anyingba to Adogo to Okene to Kabba to Egbe and from Ogori to Okene to Lokoja to Kotonkarfe and, indeed the entire state, will become one vast industrial estate. Unemployment, the bane of our youths and its attendant security connotation, will become a thing of the past in the state.”
Hon. Akerejola, who is also a member of the Kogi State Committee on the Revitalisation of the Ajaokuta Stell Company, said employment generation in the first phase of 1.3million tonnes of liquid steel production at Ajaokuta Steel Plant shows that direct employment of 10,000 technical staff and 500,000 indirect jobs of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled manpower would be required in the mines, transportation, downstream and upstream industries and other services.