From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah on Friday in Asaba said the Federal Government has put machinery in motion to re-activate the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Dr. Ogah said President Muhammadu Buhari, upon assumption of office, approved the reactivation of the company, adding that the President has already opened discussion with his Russian counterpart on the cost implication to revitalise the company.
The Minister who was in Delta State on a two-day working visit, spoke while fielding questions from newsmen shortly after a facility tour of a private steel company in Issele-Azagba, near Asaba.
Dr. Ogah who held a stakeholders’ meeting with players industry players, had also visited Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the Asagba of Asaba, Obi (Prof.) Chike Edozien.
According to him, some expertriates are being expected “to come and do verification of the plan in readiness for the completion.
“So we are hopeful that under President Buhari, a lot of things will come alive. He has been completing abandoned projects in order to provide the needed infrastructure which is the way to go. Any country without infrastructure can never grow.”
Earlier at the courtesy call on Governor Okowa, Ogah disclosed that the Federal Government has commenced the establishment of mineral processing clusters across the six geo-political zones of the country.
He said the barite processing cluster for the South-South zone is located in Cross River State, adding that the project was conceived to fully harness the abundant barite resources in Nigeria and put an end to barite importation into the country for drilling purposes in the oil/gas industry.
“It is our believe that value addition to the mineral resources of the country would engender employment generation, wealth creation, foreign exchange saver/earner, capacity development of our youths amongst other benefits,” he told the governor.
He solicited the collaboration of the state government in the development of the solid minerals sector.
“Most importantly, it’s to ensure collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Delta State Government to ensure that we leverage on President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to diversify the economy using minerals and agriculture,” he added.
Fielding questions from newsmen, Okowa said he was pleased with the minister’s visit, and that there was need for a strong collaboration between the Federal Government, the states and the private sector to develop the solid minerals industry.
Okowa noted that if the sector was developed, states and Federal Government would have less revenue challenges as they currently depended on oil minerals alone to develop the country.
“This is imperative because there is an attempt by the Federal Government to have a structured approach to mining development rather than allowing it to be the way it was in the past years.
“He has already briefed me on what is going on in some states and I have also told him about some actions we are already taking and our attempt to undertake a public-private-partnership in the development of Kaolin in the state while looking into other areas.
“He has reassured that whatever assistance is needed that they are willing to deal with that and we are quite happy with that.
“I must say that we must continue to have a strong partnership between the Federal Government, the states and the private sector because it has to be a combination of this two arms of government with the private sector that can truly help to develop minerals sector the way we expect it to be.
“This is important because until we truly develop it, we will not be having the best of gains and revenue for our country Nigeria,” Okowa stated.