Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
The Federal Government has reaffirmed its commitment towards the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Abdulkadir Muazu, who was represented by the acting Director, Steel and Non-Ferrous metals, Olasupo Kolawole, stated this at a workshop on stimulation and promotion of activities of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) in the metal sector at the weekend in Ilorin.
“For the past two to three months, you will see the trend going on in the steel sector. The president and his entourage went to Russia two months ago for negotiation on how to bring Ajaokuta up. Underground work is ongoing. Hopefully, by January 2020 everything will be concluded by governments of Russia and Nigeria on how to bring Ajaokuta Steel Company to limelight again.
“If you look at Ajaokuta as an integrated plant comprising about 43 industries in one particular place, if Ajaokuta should come up, it will take care of West African countries by supplying them all types of steel products, including the local steel which will save us foreign exchange that we use in importing steel products.”
Muazu said the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development recognises SME’S as the engine of growth for the development of the metal industry.
He said SME’s contributes significantly to wealth creation, employment generation and increase in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The minister also decried the harm done to the economy by the dependency on imported steel.
“Importation of metal products has lead to a major drain in the nation’s foreign exchange. We import all kinds of metal products, even those produced within the country, because the quality of products made in Nigeria are not comparable with those imported. The quantity of metal products made in Nigeria cannot meet the demand in the country. Imported products are also in higher demand in Nigeria due to the fact that they are cheaper.
“This trend has several negative implications which creates ripple effects, overwhelming poverty due to the folding up of SME’s which leads to several jobs lost.”
He said the workshop was organised to sensitize SME’s in the metal industry in Nigeria on their importance tot the sector. The workshop was also geared at explaining the role that the government is expected to play to help the growth of SME’s.
Acting Director, Steel and Non-Ferrous metals, Olasupo Kolawole expressed the delight that the programme was organised in Kwara State.