James Emejo in Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, on Monday said the inability of government to complete the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Company despite its enormous economic potentials had become a collective national shame.
He said it had become evident that the sheer lack of leadership and political will remained a major obstacle to the completion of the company- and not money.
Yet, he said full development of the steel sector is critical to the industrialisation of the economy- adding that about 10,000 jobs would be created for engineers and technical staff should the first of of the plan be completed.
Altogether, the speaker said over two million jobs would be created for the teeming unemployed youths.
Speaking during a fact-finding visit to the plant, Dogara who was accompanied by Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and members of the House Committee on Steel Development, chaired by Hon. Lawan Mohamed Idrisu (APC, Kogi) as well as Minister of State for Solid Minerals Development, Bawa Bwari added that at a period when the country is pursuing foreign exchange conservation, attention must be paid to the immense opportunities in the steel sector.
The speaker also foreclosed any plan to concession the plant, stressing instead that it should be completed by government even if the management services would be eventually out-sourced.
He said: â€œIf we complete this plan, Nigeria will be better for it. We are here for Nigeria…So, no more concessioning, we are tired of concessioning our assets strippers.â€
â€œYou canâ€™t concession your future. Iâ€™ve never seen a country which concession itâ€™s bedrock of industrialisation and succeeded.
â€œWeâ€™ll not repeat that mistake of concession. Anyone who attempt to outsource will run into problem with us.â€
He said with the determination of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the legislature will work with the executive to source for funds to complete the steel company.
He and Bello had suggested that if possible, recovered funds from treasury looters should be directed to financing the completion of Ajaokuta.
The governor, specifically said it would require only $500 million to complete the firm, arguing that recoveries made by anti-graft agencies from individuals. In recent times could fund the project.