The Sole Administrator Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Engr. Sumaila Abdul-Akaba, says a nation without a sound iron and steel foundation is not only weak but diversification of its economy is equally in jeopardy.
Abdul-Akaba made the remark in Lokoja on Saturday during a roundtable discourse on reviving Ajaokuta Steel plant.
He noted that the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited is far from being obsolete, as against unending biases and mis-conceptions usually peddled to de-market the project.
The Sole Administrator 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.
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.
“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.
“Sadly our 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,” he said.
Abdul-Akaba expressed delight in the noble effort by the Coalition for Revitalization of Ajaokuta Steel Plant, a civil society organization, to redirect attention of government and all well-meaning Nigerians on the need to galvanise support for the completion and operationalization of the Ajaokuta Steel plant.