Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Nigerians lament as Buhari govt shifts Ajaokuta steel coy project completion beyond 2023

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Some stakeholders in the steel sector have expressed disappointment over inability of the Federal Government to complete the Ajaokuta Steel Company in 2023 as scheduled.

The stakeholders who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja, said their hopes that the company would become functional before the end of 2023 had been dashed.

They were reacting to a recent announcement by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, that the Steel Company will not be fully completed in 2023 as earlier promised.

The minister had at a recent ministerial media briefing in the Presidential Villa, Abuja attributed restrictions caused by COVID-19 pandemic for the inability of a Russian team to carry out technical audit of the plant and sign agreement on its revival.

Recall that Mr Adegbite had in 2020 said that a 60-man team from Russia would arrive in Nigeria to start technical audit of Ajaokuta steel company.

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The agreement on how to revive the steel company was reached during a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Vladimir Putin in Russia in 2019 at the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi.

The Russian government had nominated TPE, the original builder of Ajaokuta Steel Company, to conduct technical audit of the steel company to ascertain the level of work remaining to be completed on the steel company.

Speaking with NAN, Yusuf Ayobode, a graduate of Mechanical Engineering said prompt revival of the steel company would boost Nigeria’s economy currently going through uncertainty.

“When I heard the news in 2021 that the steel company will be fully revived before 2023, I became optimistic that Nigeria economy will have a positive turn around.

“I believed that there will be massive employment for youths like me that graduated over the years without jobs,” he said.

Salawu Onipe, a native of Kogi and a graduate of Electrical Electronics said his aspiration while growing up was to work in Ajaokuta steel company.

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“Ajakuta steel has been my best option as a place to work when I was growing up because I saw massive opportunities there for youths.

“Ajaokuta steel plant is aptly tagged as the “Bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialisation” because of the available opportunities for the youths and the nation but this slogan is not forthcoming.

” When I read it online in 2020 that the Russian firm that constructed the company will be coming to Nigeria to complete Ajaokuta steel, I was happy and hoping that my dream to work in the company will come to pass.

“But the latest news that the steel company might not be completed under the current administration got me worried because no past administrations had made efforts to revive the company except this.”

Uchechukwu Ogbonaya, a former worker at the steel company urged the Federal Government to ensure it bounced back to provide massive employment to Nigerians.

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He said the menace of “yahoo yahoo” (internet fraud), kidnapping among others could be curtailed if the company becomes operational.

Mr Ogbonaya recalled when he was working in the steel company, stating that it was like another world due to its conducive environment.

The Federal Government established the Nigerian Steel Development Authority (NSDA) in 1971, through Decree No. 19 in order to advance the development of the Nigerian Steel Industry.

NSDA carried out detailed market studies and investigations on local availability of raw materials.

The Preliminary Project Report (PPR) of 1974, the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of 1977 and the Global Contract (1979) for construction of steel plant at Ajaokuta were all commissioned and executed during the NSDA period.

The NSDA was thereafter dissolved through decree No. 60 on September 18,

NAN

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