Recently, the Nigerian House of Representatives conducted a sectoral debate on the country’s steel sector and in particular the Moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company. This was as a result of a visit to the Company by Nigeria’s Speaker of the House of Representatives Mr. Yakubu Dogara. The visit was to proffer workable and implementable solutions to problems that denied the nation the opportunity of reaping from the abundant benefits of having such a company.
The efforts of the Speaker, Mr. Dogara to get to the root of the problems bedeviling the moribund steel company could best be described as another giant stride by the Nigerian House of Representatives to bring the country back on track in steel development and place it on the path of industrialization.
Ajaokuta Steel Company when fully operational could generate not less than Seventeen Billion US Dollar annually to the country’s coffers apart from over two million jobs that it will create for the teaming youths of the country. The resuscitation of the company will also help generate hundreds of Megawatts of power that could serve the needs of Kogi and Edo States.
Ajaokuta steel company has the greatest potentials to change the narratives of the Nigerian economy as well as place Nigeria among the most industrialized nations in Africa and the World at large.
Sadly, this gold mine has been a shadow of itself for more than three decades, making the country to be hundred percent dependent on imported steel to meet its local demands.
Political observers believe that, lack of political will and what they call the international conspiracy theory played and is still playing a big role in the non-completion of the Company. Previous efforts to complete and revive the company by successive Governments did not yield any result.
All that is needed now is a pragmatic and comprehensive roadmap couple with a political will to deal with the challenges confronting the steel company.
The issue of concessioning of the company to private individuals should be discouraged based on the fact that no nation would allow a Company such as Ajaokuta Steel Company that has the capabilities of being use to manufacturing arms and ammunition, to be in the hands of the private sector.
With the security challenges facing Nigeria, if the company is consessioned to a private entity, it might lead to compromising the country’s security.
The Government should therefore, explore other sources of funding to complete the project so that the iron and steel needs of not only Nigeria, but indeed Africa would be achieved thereby, increasing the country’s revenue base, build capacity and create job opportunity for the teaming youths of the country.
If Nigerians are made to buy into the project, just as Egyptians did with the New Suez Canal Project by contributing for the revamping of the company, the much needed funds will be raised and the citizens of the country will have a sense of ownership of the steel project.
The technical partners who built the Ajaokuta steel company are still operating in some countries of the world and should be invited again to complete the work that they started some decades ago.
The Government should carry out a thorough, all-encompassing investigation to unravel the true picture of what led to the incompletion of the project and those connected with it. For those who compromised the public trust should be brought to book, no matter how highly placed they may be, to serve as deterrent to those undermining the collective interest of the nation.
This unprecedented effort of the National Assembly is meant to ensure that the Ajaokuta Steel Company is back on track. Nigerians should therefore support any effort aimed at completing the steel company for a solid foundation of the industrialization of the country to be laid.