John Shiklam in Kaduna
Nigerian government and Russian Federation are to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in January 2020 towards the resuscitation of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed this yesterday during a working visit to the National Steel Raw Material and Exploration Agency (NSRMEA) in Kaduna.
Adegbite said the federal government was committed to bringing back the steel company which was closed down for several years now, adding that the Russian Government and the Nigeria Government would soon engage in
“a government to government deal.” He noted that Nigeria would not spend any money as the resuscitation would be funded by the Afrexim Bank and the Russian Export Centre.
He said “discussions with the Russians who originally built the company had reached advanced stage,” adding that a committee had been set up to kick-start the processes that would lead to the implementation of the MoU when finally it’s signed.
Adegbite explained that the resuscitation of Ajoakuta Steel Company would require a lot of quality materials to be stocked in sufficient quantity as well as encouraging local investors to explore all possibilities, “because we do not want to import any of the materials from abroad for steel production.”
The minister described NSRMEA as invaluable towards the resuscitation and development of Ajaokuta Steel Company.
“As you all know, the President is making sure that we resuscitate the Ajaokuta Steel and make it come back on stream.
“We have taken the first step. Talks are on with the original builders, the Russian Federation and the MoU draft is being studied by both sides. Hopefully sometimes in January 2020, we will probably sign the MoU and once the contractors are identified from the Russian side, the funds are already in place, the work will start.
“While we are still waiting as being promised for the two to three years agreement period to fire up Ajaokuta, there are a lot of activities that must start simultaneously,” the minister said.
Speaking earlier, NSRMEA Director General, Mr. Umar Albarka Hassan, said the agency which was saddled with the responsibility of mining and exploration in the country, was constrained by inadequate skills, inadequate project vehicles, modelling software, lack of core shed as well as challenges of dilapidated offices.