The Sole Administrator Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Engineer Sumaila Abdul-Akaba has said all hope is not yet lost because Nigeria and its citizens could still realize the objective through all round support across the strata of leadership.
Engineer Abdul-Akaba made the remark in Lokoja, Saturday during a roundtable entitled “Ajaokuta Steel, Potential and Challenges” organised by a civil society organisation, the Coalition For Revitalization of Ajaokuta Steel Plant.
He said a nation without a sound iron and steel foundation is weak and the diversification of its economy would thus be in jeopardy, noting that the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited is far from being obsolete.
The SOLAD expressed delight on the noble effort by the esteemed group to redirect attention of government and all well-meaning Nigerians on the need to galvanise support for the completion and operationalisation of the Ajaokuta Steel plant.
He recalled that steel production remained a distinctive classification mark between the 1st and 3rd worlds, that is, between the rich and poor nations, adding that history has shown that no country has ever become rich or developed by exporting raw materials as Nigeria does.
He stressed that a nation without a sound iron and steel foundation is not only weak, diversification of its economy is equally in jeopardy.
He said, “I do not want to sound repetitive on matters of Ajaokuta Integrated Iron and Steel Plant, as most of us here if not all are very conversant with the trajectory of the Ajaokuta Dream.
“However, for the records and the purpose of this roundtable, it is expedient that we take a look at the status of the plant especially with the unending biases and mis-conceptions usually peddled to de-market the project.
“Ancient Nigeria before the arrival of the British has had its own basic capacity for foundry and fabrication practices which had thrived in the empires and kingdoms, the vestiges of these practices abide till date in Ilorin, Bida, Benin, Kano, etc. From these practices, crude as they were provided farming game hunting tools, implements for works, and weapons for defence.
Nation imported Steel products valued $USD 683.17 million as at 2019 and China alone accounts for $USD364.64 million according to United Nations Comrade Data.
“This is where Ajaokuta Integrated Iron and Steel Plant comes in.Nigeria’s steel production in spite of its huge capacity is placed at a negligible 1.3 million tons per annum while Egypt and South Africa with Similar technologies and smaller population figures are producing 5.5 and 6.4 million tonnes respectively.”