By Aaron Ossai
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has disclosed that as part of efforts to boost industrialisation in Nigeria for economic growth, the National Assembly is working on laws that will remove all impediments to harnessing the potentials of the sector.
These impediments, he added, include outrageous taxes, lack of adherence to necessary laws, wrong attitude of concessionaires towards contractual terms and conditions, absence of a work programme as well as the political will of the government.
Speaker Dogara made this disclosure at the National Assembly on Wednesday, while declaring open, an investigative hearing organised by the House joint committees on Steel, Power, Petroleum Resources, Customs and Excise, Land Transport and Local Content two motions: (i) On lack of patronage of Nigerian Companies in the provision of steel products and services and the outrageous taxes and duties imposed on steel product manufacturers and service providers and (ii) Call on the federal government to consider the original builders of Ajaokuta steel plant in the proposed negotiations for the completion, reactivation and operation of the project.
He said the hearing was aimed at eliciting necessary response and inputs from stakeholders and the public on how to address these pertinent issues that affects the well-being of the citizenry with the ultimate aim of formulating good laws for the sector.
Restating the resolve of the House of Representatives to ensure that democracy benefits the masses and also grows the nations’s economy, he said, “I have no doubt that the industrialisation of this nation is, to a large extent, dependent on our capacity to harness and utilise the enormous potentials of the steel sector.
“We must note that the steel industry is a key sector in Nigeria’s economy that should have been the bedrock of the country’s industrialisation. The sector is supposed to provide industrial items such as iron rods, barb wires and coils, as well as metal doors and windows. It ought to be a sector to provide employment and empowerment to millions of Nigerians and directly improve our economy.
“It is a general perception that the failure of this sector to deliver maximum revenue and the desired industrialization is due to several bottlenecks amongst which are; the outrageous taxes, lack of adherence to the necessary laws, wrong attitude of concessionaires towards contractual terms and conditions, absence of a work programme as well as the political will of the government”, he said.
While noting that several efforts have been made to revive this sector, especially the Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASC) which was designed to be the largest integrated steel company in West Africa and the ever vibrant and fast growing Delta Steel Company (DSC) to no avail, he urged the stakeholders to make contributions to enrich the laws under consideration in order to extricate the sector from comatose.