Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The federal government plans to source a substantial part of its steel requirements for the construction of concrete roads from the Ajaokuta steel company, the Minister of Works, David Umahi, has said.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Orji Uchenna, Umahi who spoke during a meeting with the Minister of Steel Development, Shuaib Audu, in his Abuja office, explained that having inherited a large chunk of debt from the previous administration, it was time ‘to think outside the box’.
The minister said that the ministry of steel development would play a major role in the road infrastructure ‘revolution’ plan envisioned by President Bola Tinubu, by providing more than 16 per cent of the materials needed for the construction of Nigerian roads with concrete pavement.
He said that tapping into the opportunities in the steel industry would not only create jobs and wealth for Nigeria’s population, but would also establish a global market as well as encourage industrialisation.
“How do we reactivate Ajaokuta steel? We are going into concrete roads and on these concrete roads, about 16 per cent of it is from steel while 30 per cent is cement . We need a lot of money to start, but we decided to face it and God has given us an idea,” he stated.
Umahi noted that if the funding from government was being awaited, the proposed work would be slow, explaining that there was need to collaborate with the commercial banks.
He described the steel industry as the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialisation and the backbone of development of any country.
Umahi assured his counterpart that he would work with him to fully reap the benefits of the Ajaokuta steel plant, which he said is the largest in Nigeria.
“One of the renewed hope agenda of the president is to think outside the box. The president inherited a large chunk of debt from the past administration. The beauty of it is that he is not complaining.
“He knew how the country was before he took the job and how it is. The good thing is that if you have passion for something God will give you an idea,” he said.
In his remarks, the minister of steel, Audu, described the meeting as “robust and incisive“ , stressing that his priority was to restart the steel milling plant which has not worked for decades.
“What we came to discuss here is how to restart the steel production at Ajaokuta plant. The minister has made it very clear that the federal government is looking to develop over 30,000 kilometres of roads and a large component of that will be from steel wrought and a percentage of that steel wrought will be produced in Ajaokuta.
“We came to have a discussion on how to implement the process for producing it in Ajaokuta within the shortest possible time,” he stated.
He emphasised the importance of the initiative by both ministers and expressed hope that it would provide the needed economic boost for the nation, generate revenue and provide thousands of direct jobs for skilled and non-skilled manpower.
“We are to achieve two or three things. One is to create job opportunities for Nigerians as a whole, to ensure that the corridor around the North-central zone and around the Ajaokuta/Warri axis is busy with activities and that the plant that has been inactive for close to four decades is restarted within the shortest possible time,” he explained.