By Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The multi-billion US dollar Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex which was initiated by the first civilian President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari but later abandoned by the past administrations for over twenty years, will require about $400 million to complete the steel plant.
The Sole Administrator of the Steel Complex, Engr. Joseph Onobere Isah disclosed this yesterday when the Kogi State Steering Committee on the Revitalisation of Ajaokuta Steel plant set up by the Kogi State government met with the management team of the steel plant.
According to him, if such money was committed into the project by the federal government, it would take minimum of three years to unveil the steel plant.
He mentioned that about 15,000 Technical staff members are expected to be employed, while indirect employment will be about 500,000 jobs of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled manpower would be required in the mines, transportation, downstream and upstream industries and other services.
Joseph, who commended the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello for constituting the steering committee barely two months in office, said the governor’s action was indicative of his administration’s move to play a leading role in the quest for the actualisation of the steel project.
He therefore saluted the Governor for coming up with the noble idea of propelling a state driven platform to push for the completion and operationalisation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant.
The Sole Administrator noted that the annual revenue generation from the project when unveiled would substantially impact on the internally generated revenue of the state, adding that the required rail link between Ajaokuta through Oturkpo to Onne port for bulk materials movement to Ajaokuta would open up the Eastern Senatorial district to National markets and commerce, while Okaba and Ogboyega coal deposits would also find ready markets at Ajaokuta and elsewhere in the country.
“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 400 km radius from Ajaokuta” he said.
He therefore urged the committee to be wary of “stakeholders”, and there are countless number of them, all claiming possession of the knowledge of the Way Forward for Ajaokuta whilst serving other interests and knowing next to nothing about Ajaokuta.
Earlier, acting Chairman of the Kogi State Steering Committee of Revitalisation of the Steel Plant, Brig Gen. Muhammed Yusuf while presenting his speech said being a very big stakeholder in the Iron Ore and Steel Plants in Itape and Ajaokuta respectively, Kogi State, as the host community, would no doubt benefit immensely as soon as the steel plant in Ajaokuta was put into 100 per cent maximum production capacity.
According to him, Governor Bello constituted them into a Steering Committee chaired by the Secretary to the State Government to kick start and lay the road map to effectively revitalise the country’s hitherto untapped ‘gold’ that they have in Kogi State which has been laying dormant despite the fact that the necessary infrastructures have been laid and the solid minerals, the iron Orleans other minerals, are available.
“We will come up with a working paper for the Governor who will now discuss with the President, Muhammad Buhari and seek for the President’s endorsement for the revitalization of the steel industry in the state in order to tap the great benefits for the development of our nation in general and our state in particular especially at this crucial economic ‘tsunami’ in our country” he noted.