Chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, yesterday said the Ajaokuta Steel Company, Ajasteel in Kogi State could industrialise Nigeria over night if given the needed attention by all stakeholders with adequate funding.
This is even as the Sole Administrator of Ajasteel, Isah Onobere said the company requires N80billion to put it in use at full capacity.
Ben-Bruce and Onobere, who spoke during a public hearing organized by the committee in Abuja, advised the federal government to involve the company in its negotiations with the Chinese government which was expected to construct 8, 000 kilometres of rail network in the country, at the cost of $80billion.
According to the committee chairman, what the government needed to do was to tell the Chinese government that the steel needed for the entire project could be produced in Ajaokuta and that the firm requires about $40million to produce the raw materials it needed.
He expressed disappointment that the successive governments could abandon the projects and blamed previous administrations and governments as being behind the rot and abandonment.
The chairman pledged that his committee would meet with Vice President, Yomi Osinbajo to find lasting solution to the problem to ensure that the company work again since it could be operational even without subventions from the federal government.
“After spending about $5bn, it does not make any sense to abandon the plant. The government should have had a plan. We are disappointed that successive governments after Shagari abandoned the project”, he said.
Ben-Bruce commended the former President Shehu Shagari administration for the foresight in establishing the company in the Second Republic.
However, Onobere disclosed that one of the 43 plants installed in the complex was capable of producing 600, 000 tonnes of steel annually and that the quantity could cover a 10, 000 kilometres of rail network
across the country and therefore explained that the firm would put together a business plan to the Federal Government to accommodate it in the Memorandum of Understanding recently signed with the Chinese government on the construction of two major rail tracks across the country.
Onobere added that the Light Mill section of the plant, which would require N43bn to become functional, could produce 400, 000 tonnes of steel per annum at full capacity.
The sole administrator also said that with an investment of the N43billion, the plant could generate an average annual income of N80billion.
He also added that the Thermal plant of the firm which has installed capacity of 110 megawatts of electricity requires N5bn to become fully operational and would generate N18.7billion annually.
Onobere also said that the electricity that would be produced by the firm could power the entire 43 plants in the complex when fully operational and also supply power to three states including Kogi.
debunking Insinuations that the heavy equipments installed in the sprawling edifice was obsolete he described the complex as the bedrock of Nigeria’s development, and that the government must be careful to concession it because doing so, would amount to selling out scraps.
“About $513million was required to complete Ajaokuta project. This place is the bedrock of Nigeria’s development. The first phase of the project has reached 98 percent completion but was abandoned in 1994.
“For 22 years, there was no new input, and N23trillion worth of steel products had been imported into Nigeria in nine years whereas $513million is needed to complete the project. Total investment for the entire project is $4.6billion”, Onobere added.


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