OrderPaperToday – The Senate has urged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency expedite action towards the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Project.

In a motion moved by Senator Yakubu Oseni (APC, Kogi) on Tuesday, he described the Ajaokuta steel company as a panacea to the diversification of the Nigerian economy.

Ajaokuta Integrated Steel Complex tagged ‘the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialisation’ was erected over 35 years ago to generate important upstream and downstream industrial and economic activities that are critical to the diversification of our economy into an industrial one.

The steel plant is planned to be executed in three phases and was conceived to launch Nigeria into an industrialized nation and make the manufacturing sector lead in GDI contribution.

Phase 1 is for the production of 1.3 million tonnes of liquid steel per year to generate round products and high sections

Phase 2 is for the production of 2.6 million tonnes of liquid steel per year during which that products are to be added to the product mix and Phase 3 is to produce 5.2 million tonnes of liquid steel per year to enlarge the volume of the product mix and include some special grades of steel.

The steel plant is situated on a 24,000 hectares of greenfield landmass that is envisaged to grow into a technological village clusters for small scale industries as we have in Sheffield (UK) and Bukar (India) presently) that will in due course utilized the products and by-products of the Steel Plant as the raw materials.

According to Oseni, the employment generation for the first phase commissioning of the steel plant will yield 10,000 direct technical staff and 500,000 indirect jobs of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled in the downstream and upstream industries and services.

He however lamented that Nigeria without developing the steel industry will only export all its raw steel at a very cheap ratio and import the finished steel and allied products at exorbitant prices as seen with oil.

“Nigeria imports over N2.3 million of steel and allied product every year, our steel industry will therefore be a tangible foreign exchange and saver for our fragile economy.

“A completed Ajaokuta Steel Plant in no doubt will present huge benefits to our bid for common diversification. It will be a huge foreign exchange earner and saver for the country and employment generation thereby help greatly in reducing the current wave of youth unrest, kidnapping, and banditry in the country”, he stated.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari recently inaugurated a presidential committee on the implementation of the Ajaokuta steel.

As part of it’s resolution, the red chamber commended Buhari for the inauguration of the committee and urged the Committee “to hit the ground running by ensuring that all issues surrounding the operation of Ajaokuta Steel Company are resolved.”

The red chamber also directed the Senate Leadership and the Committee on Solid Minerals and Steel Development to undertake an assessment oversight on the complex after the COVID-19 lockdown.

It appealed to the Federal Ministry of Transport to complete the Ajaokuta-Okaba rail line to facilitate the operations of the Ajaokuta steel plant.

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