INTERVIEW: Ajaokuta Steel Industry Will Create Jobs If Revived – Barr. Natasha Akpoti

imageThe founder Builder Hub Foundation, Barr. Natasha Akpotio has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to revive the Ajaokuta Steel industry, saying that the steel plant tagged: “Bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization” would help cut the unemployment figures amongst young Nigerians.

Ajaokuta steel is the home of the multi-billion dollar Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill. The multifaceted mill is meant to be used to generate important upstream and downstream industrial and economic activities that are critical to the diversification of the Nigerian economy into an industrial one.
Speaking during an interactive section with news men in Abuja, Akpoti lamented that Nigeria continues to suffer unquantifiable and monumental losses from the multibillion dollar investment, due to asset depreciation, brain drain of man power that were trained in Russia, Bulgaria, and India for the steel plant.

She said copies of the letter recently addressed to the Permanent secretary, Mines and Steel Development, copied to the presidency pointed out that the gigantic steel company is in need of resuscitation to revamp the multibillion dollar steel plant company to serve its purpose.

She said, ‘’Across Nigeria, current economic realities have had dramatic impacts on the challenges of her young people. Unemployment statistics amongst this significant population class has steadily grown to unattractive heights, reversing projected trend of declining youth unemployment rates which experts had earlier put out.’’

‘’This industrial complex can manufacture stone crushers and any other industrial components, both for telecommunications infrastructure, spares for excavators, tractors, cars, ships, military hardware and steel of all sizes and shapes.

‘’Ajaokuta can produce over 110MW of electricity, to meet its own local consumption needs and puts the rest into the national grid adding the revival of this complex which has a Metallurgical Training Centre that can train over 3000 youths in Technical Craftsmanship, every year in over 37 different programmes,’’ she said.

She said “The vision was to make Ajaokuta Steel Plant the bedrock of Nigeria’s Industrialization. Regrettably it has been left abandoned for decades and is fast becoming a national tragedy. There have also been reported cases of theft of some of the light equipment and facilities of the steel plant especially during the sham called concession carried out in the past.

She stated that it will be a total disgrace if our nation fails to get Ajaokuta working adding that Nigeria is in desperate need to truly diversify the economy due to the dwindling revenue accruable from crude oil.

“This government spearheaded by President Muhammadu Buhari led APC administration pledged to put this country on a sound economic footing and in realisation of the “change” that they promised Nigeria and Nigerians, there is an urgent need for the Ajaokuta Steel Company and Itapke Iron Ore Mining Project, where the raw material (iron ore) for the steel plant is sourced to be fully put on track and 100% operational.”

She said noted that the Ajaokuta Steel Complex is at over 90% completion since 1994, out of 43 plants, 40 are 100% and is ready for operation; workers are equally ever eager to start production saying that notwithstanding the long years of abandonment.

“It is estimated that to awaken the complex needs an investment of around $500 million dollars. Such funds can be sourced internally in order to realise the potential of the project. With private public partnership agreement and guarantee from government, the complex can start operation immediately and as quickly as within the next two years and can begin to gain full operational capacity and industrial revolution.”

She expressed confidence that the revitalisation of the steel plant alone can bring about these “changes” to a great extent and urged President Buhari to ensure the completion, commissioning and continuous operation of Ajaokuta Steel Plant.

She said that if the federal government was genuinely interested in building the economy, providing jobs for the youths and instigating an industrial revolution in Nigeria, the government have no choice but to revive the steel industry.

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