By Paschal Emeka(Abuja)
Efforts to speed up actions in completing the Ajaokuta steel complex received a boost in the senate on Tuesday. This follows a motion sponsored by Sen Oseni yakubu representing Kogi Central District in the upper legislative chamber.
The motion titled: the Ajaokuta steel company: A panacea to the diversification of the Nigerian economy; was one of the key issues that featured prominently in the session generating strategic attentions.
Leading the debate, Sen Oseni pointed out that a working steel plant is always the bedrock of industrialisation for any developing nation hence of the pillars of the Nigerian Industrial Plan (NRIP) launched in 2014.
Analysing that Employment generation for the first phase commissioning of the steel plant will yield 10,000 direct technical staff and 500,000 indirect jobs, he said.
He further argued that without developing a steel industry, Nigeria will continue to export raw steel at a very cheap price and import the finished steel and allied products at exorbitant prices as it is with oil.
“Nigeria imports over N2.3 billion of steel and allied products every year. Our steel industry will, therefore, be a tangible foreign exchange and saver for our fragile economy.
“A completed Ajaokuta Steel Plant in no doubt will present huge benefits to our bid for common diversification. It will be a huge foreign exchange earner and saver for the country and employment generation thereby help greatly in reducing the current wave of youth unrest, kidnapping, and banditry in the country,” he said.
While he commended the president for inaugurating a presidential committee on the implementation of the steel plant, he urged the panel to commence work.
The senate concluded deliberations on the motion with resolutions calling on the federal government as a matter of urgency to expedite action towards the completion of the Ajaokuta steel complex
In addition, it urged the Ministry of Transport to complete the Ajaokuta-Okaba rail line to facilitate the operations of the Ajaokuta steel plant.
The Senate thereafter urged the Senate leadership and the Committee on Solid Minerals and Steel Development to undertake an assessment oversight on the complex after the COVID-19 lockdown.
The call for speedy completion of the steel plant is one among many that have, been emphasizing the importance for the plant to Nigeria’s economy. Hopefully this one by the senate might yield the much expected result.
The idea of having a steel industry was conceived in 1958 by the federal government. It has had attained 98 per cent completion as far back as 1994 but due to policy inconsistency and lack of government attention it has suffered neglect, unable to take off and the Nigerian dream of becoming player in of industrial machinery, auto-electrical spare-parts, shipbuilding, railways and carriages.