Saturday, October 16, 2021

Iron & steel: Nigerian govt urged to localise policies, engage local investors for Ajaokuta steel coy

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Ibrahim Ramalan
Ibrahim Ramalan is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. With nearly a decade-long, active journalism practice, Mr Ramalan has been able to rise from a cub reporter to the exalted position of an editor; first as Arts Editor with the Blueprint Newspapers before resigning in 2019; second and presently as an Associate Editor of the Daily Nigerian online newspaper. He can be reached via [email protected], or www.facebook.com/ibrahim.ramalana, or @McRamalan on Twitter.
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Indigenous stakeholders in the iron and steel sector in Nigeria have appealed to the Federal Government to indigenize iron and steel industries whereby government holds only marginal interest and the indigenous investors get major interests.

Speaking during meeting of stakeholders in iron and steel sector in Ilorin on Thursday, the chairman, Basic metal, fabricated iron and steel products, Dr. Kamoru Yusuf, said that future of iron and steel business in Nigeria will heavily be dictated by the policy thrust of the government.

According to him, such policies must be tailored towards rendering necessary support and ease of doing business to investors in the sector.

The meeting, organized to deliberate on status of the industry and propose strategies for the development of the sector, was attended by relevant government ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, as well as local and foreign chief executives of iron and steel companies.

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The stakeholders, who said it is the position of the general public that Ajaokuta steel plant should work again in the hands of local investors, added that, Nigeria needs to pride herself as the giant of Africa by making judicious use of her highly talented, patriotic and committed indigenous investors with adequate recognition of the stakes of the government.

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“Without mincing words, the assets should not be handed over to foreign investor(s), rather, it should be managed 100 per cent by a competent indigenous investor who had demonstrated capability with evidence of success stories on existing steel plants and wire processing factories.

“With this, government can and may own 40%, while the investor will own 60%. This will no doubt, enhance easy, sustainable, and rewarding business fortunes for the nation. Every phase and processes of the investment must be given cognizance attention and priority,” he said.

Mr Yusuf also said that the nation is assured that the capital and proceeds would remain here and will be re-invested into our economy, if indigenous steel investors are given the chance to resuscitate Ajaokuta.

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He said that the federal government should take a cue from its developed counterparts by allowing Credit Insurance Underwriters to operate in Nigeria, adding that investment in the iron and steel business is capital-intensive with huge risks.

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“We believe that with policy shift, some benefits will accrue. This would complement the Backward-Integration Policy of the Government, which seeks to preserve our scarce foreign exchange and create employment for millions of Nigerians directly and indirectly.

“There will be more liquidity in the Nigerian economy and Nigeria would have the opportunity of competing with her peers in the continent and across the globe.

“It will minimise brain drain to foreign countries in the name of search for greener pasture, especially among our teeming youths.

“Nigeria would be able to participate successfully in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and compete favourably among countries in the continent.

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“Ajaokuta will come with good opportunity of reinvigorating the automobile sector of the economy after a successful installation and commissioning of ultramodern machineries.”

Also speaking, the director, Industrial Development Department, federal ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adewale Bakare, said that the stakeholders’ meeting was necessitated by the ongoing effort of the ministry at repositioning the iron and steel sector through development of workable policies and strategies for the growth and development of the sector.

“Our developmental history shows that Nigeria started its nation building with a strong iron and steel sector including the establishment of the Ajaokuta steel complex which was a beacon of hope in the early days.

“However, present realities show that the iron and steel industry has not achieved the desired development as the various sub-sectors under the iron and steel industry have remained at the levels of infancy or non-existent, living the country to depend largely on importation of iron and steel products,” he said.

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