As Nigeria struggles to meet its industrial needs, managers of Nigeria’s greatest steel investment, have assured that the Ajaokuta Steel Complex remains Nigeria’s greatest solution to industrialisation, even as they revealed that Nigeria has imported over N23 trillion worth of steel, spanning 10 years, LEADERSHIP Friday Editor, RUTH TENE NATSA writes.
Records by the National Bureau of Statistics (2011) have revealed that Nigeria has imported over N23 trillion worth of Steel Products, between 2001-2010.
This is revealed in a presentation on the status of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (Past, Present And Future), with the theme, ‘Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, The Springboard For Sustainable Development And Change Catalyst Of The Nigerian Nation’.
The presentation was made available to some select editors in Abuja by the Public Affairs & Information Division, 2018 of the company in Abuja, recently.
According to the presentation, “Our Nation’s steel consumption average with its population of 165million persons is less than 10 kilograms (per capita).”
The document added that “Nigeria imports averagely 17 million tons of steel and allied products per annum and to this end, the country has imported over N23 trillion worth of steel products between 2001-2010”.
Noting that, this is one major factor that complicates the nation’s present foreign exchange challenges and instability, it stressed that, “The country’s steel production, in spite of its huge capacity is placed at a negligible 100,000 MT per annum while Egypt and South Africa with similar technologies and smaller population figures are producing 5.5 and 6.4 million tonnes respectively; (source: World Steel 2015; please note that 1.5 million MT of Steel products is being produced locally by some companies using 100 per cent scrap as raw material). However, because of the non-functionality of ASCL and DSCL, there is no production of crude steel, which is the main stay of the steel sector.”
The document revealed that, “Steel can assist the Construction Industry, through the reduction of over 4million tons of rolled steel products and over 12million tons of other steel products presently imported, thus leading to savings of several billions in forex.
“The steel sector can assist the rail transportation program, it can support the petroleum sector through the production of most of the spares for TAM, it can support ICT through the production of communication towers, thus saving the country billions of forex and can also support the power sector through the production of power transmission towers as well as defence equipment and armament production etc.
It adds that the steel sector if revived, can also support small and medium scale industries through the production of spare parts and automobile and ship building industries – with production of flat sheet, structures, and spare parts.
It further states that Ajaokuta steel can also support the rehabilitation of 22 domestic airports and four international airports (Lagos, Port harcourt, Abuja, and Kano) through the production of Steel structures, can support the rehabilitation of national seaports (Lagos-Apapa, Warri, Calabar and Port Harcourt), hydro power stations and dams and coal to power station projects among several others.
It further reveals there are many benefits to completing the complex as this would portend that Steel Development would ensure strategic defence cells in steel plant; training ground for feeding armament production facilities, bedrock of industrialisation as well enhance one of the four pillars of the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plans (NIRP) launched in 2014.
Stating the current status of the plant, the document revealed that, “Notwithstanding the long years of non-operation of the steel plant, the technical readiness already achieved has not diminished significantly as preservation of equipment and facilities are constantly undertaken. The Technical Audit Report of 2010 confirmed this.
“Ajaokuta Steel Plant equipment and facilities are robust, rugged and designed with 25 per cent safety factor. Similar plants in Russia and Ukraine have been in operation for over 100 years.
“The situation of the Steel Plant’s equipment and facilities are satisfactory. Mechanically, the Steel Plant equipment and facilities are generally in good condition”, though it also indicated that some facilities like the electrics, instrumentation and insulations are deteriorating and need to be replaced, upgraded or modernised.”
The statement further states government bureaucracy and lack of funding as factors militating against the completion of the project.
Looking at funding options for the Plant, the document recommended the use of the Natural Resource Development Fund, special direct budgetary provisions, internal loans through government bonds and external loan through Debt Management Office.
It further advocates for the Completion of the Project through use of recovered looted funds and special Intervention Fund.
Reacting to the recent rumoured sale of the plant, the stakeholders said selling off the project at this stage would imply selling off two plants as scraps. It would also ensure that no liquid steel would be produced in the next two years as the outstanding infrastructures are yet to be completed
It further states that selling off will mean, the extra facilities meant to enhance our national capacity for industrialising the economy and ensuring our technological independence will be lost.
“Selling off both Plants at their present level of completion will be a colossal loss to the socio-economic development and the technological independence of the nation.”
Meanwhile, LEADERSHIP Friday, recalls that Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, following a meeting with vice president, prof Yemi Osinbanjo, had told Journalists that the federal government is not planning to sell the Ajaokuta Steel Complex.
The governor’s comments followed outcries by stakeholders who reacted to Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), that “there is a plan to sell the complex in a bid to raise money to fund the 2018 budget”.
“I am aware of the situation of Ajaokuta Steel Company of Nigeria. It is also on the cart, first for a total review of the process of privatisation and payment, so that our aluminum sector can eventually come alive.”
The Kogi governor said the vice-president told him that the government is working to put the complex to use for the benefit of the country.
“First of all, the vice-president, being the chairman of the National Economic Council, we came to make some enquiries from him over the purported sale of Ajaokuta Steel Complex and he has indicated that there is nothing like that,” Bello said.
“He said there is no plan by the federal government to sell Ajaokuta steel company. The VP said Ajaokuta is an asset of the federal government and that they are looking into how best to make good use of that particular complex for the benefit of Nigerians at large.”
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