Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The federal government yesterday announced plans to collaborate with the African Export-Import Bank and the Russia Export Centre to ensure the Ajaokuta Steel Plant was rehabilitated for full capacity operations.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who made the announcement, said that FG’s desire was to upgrade the facility to manufacture materials for possible export.
The minister, who disclosed this in Ajaokuta during his tour of the steel complex, informed that, the country was desirous of making the Ajaokuta Steel Company fully operational.
Adegbite’s visit, like that of his predecessors, which many said would turn things around, was welcomed with enthusiasm, was however cut short by same rhetoric of “we will revive Ajaokuta.”
He said during his inspection tour of the plant: “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, they ensured their maintenance and functionality.”
Recall that the federal government recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Russia Trade, Investment Ministry on Geoscience Cooperation, where it spelt out the forms of cooperation expected, which included exchange of scientific and technical information; exchange of study visits and scientists; collaboration on research activities; joint organisation of symposia, conferences workshops and training programmes and other forms of cooperation as may be mutually agreed between the parties.
The MOU also spelt out expected areas of cooperation, which included research and development on basic geology; geological maps compilation and regional mineralisation correlation; methodology and technology on geochemical mapping and remote sensing.
The minister, on his first visit to the National Iron Ore Mining Company Limited (NIOMCO) had criticised the modification concession agreement on the re-operationalisation of the steel complex with Messrs Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited (GINL) under the modified Concession Agreement (MCA) signed on 1st August, 2016.
Adegbite, told journalists that the Iron ore mining company was very important to Ajaokuta thus the so called modification concession agreement doesn’t make sense.
According to him, “If you give the sole of Itakpe to place in another hand, and you want Ajaokuta to function, then we are wasting our time. If Itakpe does not function, then, Ajaokuta is going to be an empty soul.
“So, that’s why government must have control of Itakpe and also be able to produce Ajaokuta. As it were, Aladja has been privatised and sold presently but, Ajaokuta and Itakpe will stay in government’s hand and will produce to the benefits of the people of Nigeria.
“It doesn’t matter whose ox is gored, those people are not our friends, they don’t want Nigeria to produce steel and they’ve successfully done it over the years and as it were, they are busy preparing to go back to some courts abroad to embarrass Nigeria, but I’m sure that the country is capable of meeting them at those points and we will not surrender our sovereignty to some individuals,” Adegbite assured.