Minister of Steel Development, Shuaibu Abubakar-Audu says funding is the greatest challenge in efforts to revive the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Plant as Nigeria needs an excess of $2 billion to invest in it.

The Minister made this known in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital during his official visit to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and other indigenous steel sector stakeholders in the state.

He noted that the current administration of President Bola Tinubu is working to grow the economy of the country by $1 trillion which involves supporting indigenous key players in the steel sector to industrialise Nigeria.

Abubakar-Audu also maintained that there is an ongoing discussion to have an industrial park at the Ajaokuta Steel Mill to attract key players in the sector. He explained that his Ministry is engaging key industry players across the country with a view to turning around the economy

Ajaokuta Steel Complex outlives 16 presidents in its moribund state

Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, the story of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited is the story of abandonment and neglect of Nigeria’s greatest investment. This is an expository on how the monument has outlived 16 administrations that have consistently paid lip service to reviving it.

Since the inception of the Steel Complex, which was inaugurated before Nigeria won her independence, the monumental complex has outlived the leadership of 17 heads of government and presidents and has seen billions of dollars in investment as each administration pays verbal commitment to completing the complex and sees it running.

Q: “However, the nation’s steel sector, which has the potential to promote technological growth, skills acquisition and development, infrastructural development, wealth creation through value addition to natural resources, and employment generation, amongst several other benefits, remains redundant.”

The complex has outlived the leadership of Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister and Nnamda Azikiwe as President and Head of State from 1960–1966. It has outlived the short leadership of Aguiyi Ironsi, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (1967–1975), Gen. Murtala Muhammed (1975–1976), Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (1976), and Shehu Shagari (1979–1983).

Other presidents it has outlived include Muhammad Buhari (1983–1986), Ibrahim Babangida (1985–1993), Ernest Shonekan interim government (Aug 1993–Nov 1993), Sani Abacha (1993–1998), Abdulsalami Abubakar (1998–1999), and Olusegun Obasanjo (1999–2007).

Umaru Musa Yaradua ‪2007-2010‬, Good Luck Ebele Jonathan ‪2010-2015‬, Muhammad Buhari ‪2015-2023‬, and now President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is in the realm, and we hope he leaves a legacy to be remembered.

The Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) located in Ajaokuta Kogi State is 38 km away from Lokoja, the State Capital of Kogi State. It was created in 1958 under the defunct National Steel Development Authority (NSDA). Following the enactment of Decree 60 in 1979, the FGN under Section 2 of the Decree created the Ajaokuta Steel Company, Delta Steel Company, and three (3) Inland Rolling Mills at Oshogbo, Jos, and Katsina, respectively.

The steel plant is known to have in place 26 housing estates, 95 km of transmission and distraction power lines, and 200 varying transformers for the housing estates and the steel plant. Internal, road network, captive power plant, and water treatment facilities for human consumption, amongst other facilities.

As of the moment, 40 out of the 42 plant units of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant have been completed but remain idle. This is despite the fact that the Federal Government, in its plan to revive the steel sector in August 2016, signed a renegotiated concession agreement with Global Steel Holdings Limited for the Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe.

By the new agreement, Ajaokuta Steel Complex had reverted to the Federal Government, effectively freeing the entity from all contractual encumbrances that had left it uncompleted and non-functional for decades, while GSHL retained NIOMCO.

The development of the plant is still in the first phase, even though some of the facilities for common services for the three phases are in place. The present phase is estimated to be over 98 percent technically ready as of 1994, based on the weight of equipment and steel structures as per the original design that were erected before the global contract with TPE was determined in 1996.

As a means of addressing this failure, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration 2020 inaugurated the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Resuscitation and Implementation Team (Apprit) to ensure the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant (ASP) based on the original design, ensure timely commissioning of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant (ASP) within a reasonable period to be agreed upon by the parties to the agreement, and recommend the primary tenure of a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Concession.

Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, Boss Jida Mustapha, recalled at the inauguration that previous attempts at implementation and force majeure situations had thwarted the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant and protracted its resuscitation over the past four decades, thus resulting in avoidable massive foreign exchange losses and intolerable opportunity cost to the country.



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