Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The outgoing Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite at the weekend revealed that the Kogi State Government constituted bottlenecks to the concession of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL).
Adegbite, however, observed that the challenges posed by the Kogi State Government and other bottlenecks to the planned concession of Ajaokuta would be resolved by the next administration and the steel mill would eventually be made to produce.
He made the disclosure at a valedictory dinner organised by Segilola Gold Project, the subsidiary of Thor Explorations Limited in recognition of the minister’s outstanding stewardship in Abuja at the weekend.
Speaking at the dinner, Adegbite noted that in spite of all bottlenecks, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration had taken the process of completing and operationalising the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) to an advanced level that will see it producing in the near future.
He noted that the federal government “is a continuum, and as such successive administrations should be able to build on what has been achieved to accomplish set development goals in the overall interest of the people as a federation.
“Ajaokuta seems to be intractable. But that is not true. We have taken Ajaokuta to a point. We would have achieved a bigger milestone. But we had an impediment.
“The Kogi State Government thought it differently. It went to court, and that stopped what we were doing. But I’m sure this will be resolved and Ajaokuta will start producing. Government is a continuum,” the outgoing minister said.
The federal government had commenced the concession process for ASCL and National Iron Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO, at Itakpe both in Kogi State with an advertisement.
In protest, however, the Kogi State Government went to court and got an injunction restraining the federal government from proceeding with the concession process.
The defendants in the matter are the Attorney General of the Federation, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Bureau of Public Enterprise, Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Iron Ore Mining Company.
On the $600 million private integrated steel plant, located in Gujeni village, Kagarko LGA, Kaduna State, being built by African Natural Resources and Mines, Adegbite said it had been fully completed, but being test run ahead of its official commissioning.
Welcoming the guests on behalf of the organisers earlier, the CEO of Segilola Gold Project, Mr Segun Lawson said the event was put together with stakeholders to appreciate the good works of Adegbite, the Minister of State, Senator Gbemisola Saraki and Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade.
Lawson said: “It is on record that they had discharged their duties creditably well, and the diversification agenda of the federal government through the solid minerals sector has been taken to a higher pedestal.”