Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
The federal government thursday said it has concluded plan to ensure a total ban on steel importation so as to assist the local steel manufacturers to develop, thereby boosting the Gross Domestic Product and the diversification of the nation’s economy.
The Minister of Steel and Mines, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, who stated this in Ilorin, Kwara State capital during an official visit to a local steel manufacturing industry, Kamwire Industry Limited, added that the gesture would also create more employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the country.
The minister, who explained that government was determined to stop importation of substandard steel products into Nigeria, noted that his ministry is “working with Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to address the issue.”
According to him, “The ministry is not in control of the quality of steel products that come into the country, though we’re responsible for steel productions.
“We’ll work with the concerned agency to control what comes in. The ultimate aim is to ban steel importation totally. But before we do that, we will ensure we’re able to satisfy local consumption from local production and still have excess to export. That’s where we’re heading.
“We welcome local industrialisation and local entrepreneurs. We want to encourage them. I can see depth of backward integration here, from raw material to finished product. This is an example of what Nigeria should do. If you do this you can imagine this complex providing over 4,000 employment opportunities. If we have replication of this all over the country, it will reduce rate of restiveness and banditry we have today.”
Adegbite expressed the determination of the federal government to effectively harness the mining sector and commended Kamwire for the steps taken so far to develop the sector.
The minister, who argued that local investors are better than foreign investors, explained that the local investors would engage the local people and at the end of the day would not take their profit out of the state.
Also speaking, Vice Chairperson of Kamwire Holding, Hajia Bolanle Yusuf, said there’s need to pay for more attention to the iron and steel sector to make it a national product for diverse economic benefits due to the numerous opportunities such as job creation, revenue generation and improved social welfare of the people of the nation.
She also called for continuous advocacy for diversification of the economy, most importantly in favour of steel sector and guard against economic saboteurs who, she said had held us to ransom through smuggling and illegal importation of galvanised, aluminium and corrugated roofing sheets into Nigeria.
“Despite the recent closure of land borders, seaports are still porous. At the moment, Nigeria market is flooded with substandard roofing sheets, a sad scenario which calls for urgent national debate.
“Conspiracy and sharp practices among law enforcement agencies and importers are some of the factors working against the federal government’s drive to rid the nation of criminalities.
“The goal in the iron and steel sector’s roadmap is that it would contribute about 10 per cent to our national GDP by 2025 and help diversify the nation’s economy. In order to realise this dream, there is urgent need to engage the SON and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to work closely with us in this regard,” she said.