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Lack of political will stalled Ajaokuta Steel Mill for over 40 years – Minister

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By Tayo ABIOLA

 

The Minister of Steel Development, Shuaibu Audu has identified lack of political will as one of the major reasons why the Ajaokuta Steel Mill has not functioned for over 40 years.

Audu observed in an interview with Channels Television’s Politics Today.

However, the minister said that the current administration is committed to revitalising the light steel mill of the steel complex to be able to produce iron rods.

According to him, it will cost between two to five billion dollars to revamp the entire complex based on the estimate by experts, with the light steel mill section costing about N35 billion.

The minister also disclosed that President Bola Tinubu gave him approval to raise money locally to revive the light steel mill section of the steel plant.

He stated that the N35 billion investments on the steel plant will help it produce 50,000 tons of iron rods with the capacity to go up to 400,000 tons.

“I think part of the issue is that there has been no political will. This is the first time in our 63-year history since independence that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has created a Steel Ministry.

“He (President Tinubu) understands the industrial revolution will hinge on the Ministry of Steel. There were some concessions done in the past where concessionaires brought in didn’t have the skills required to be able to carry out the job, so those were some of the challenges,” he said.

The minister also disclosed that the last concession that was done with Global Steel was terminated, with the Nigerian government having to pay about $496 million for terminating the concession agreement with the Indian company.

Audu disclosed that the Federal Government plans to start the production of production of iron rods and military hardware in Ajaokuta Steel Mill.

The minister said he has been working closely with his counterparts in the Ministries of Defence and Works to perfect plans for the steel plant which has been moribund for many years to start the production of iron rods and military hardware.

He said, “In addition to restarting light steel mill, we want to produce military hardware in Ajaokuta Steel.

“I have been working very closely with Minister of Defence Alhaji Badaru and Minister of Works Senator Umahi to work hand in hand to produce iron rod in Ajaokuta and to produce military hardware capabilities in Ajaokuta.

“Whether it is helmets, whether it is bullets, whether it is vests, whether it is pads for tanks of all shapes and all of those things or rifles ammunitions, we will be able to have the capacity to be able to do that.”

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