Business Hilights
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Funding steel dependent contracts with imported iron misplaced priority—Dogara

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has argued that it amounts to misplacement of national priority when government is speeding up steel dependent projects without fixing Ajaokuta Steel complex, Delta Steel and others.

He said the amount being spent on the volume of imported steel for key projects like Mambilla power project and the Second Niger Bridge, among others are more than what is needed to fix Ajaokuta steel plant.

Business Hilights recalls that in far back June, 2015, the Speaker had expressed dismay over the bad state of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, wondering if demons were frustrating the project.

The Speaker, who spoke when the Kogi State House of Representatives caucus paid him a solidarity visit in Abuja, called for prayers for the restoration of the project.

Dogara then, noted that the project was a platform for industrialisation which would employ many Nigerians if put to utmost use and promised that the leadership of the House would liaise with the Federal Government on the immediate restoration of the steel complex.

While calling on the Federal Government to show more commitment in revamping it so as to help reduce the problem of unemployment in the country, he said that the House would give the project the priority it deserves to ensure that the vision for its establishment was realised.

In his presentation at the ongoing 2018 Open NASS Week in the National Assembly, Abuja, the lawmaker raised alarm over the huge sums of money Nigeria was sinking in China to buy steel, saying it portended danger for the country.

According to him, should Nigeria continue to ignore its steel sector and depend on importation, it would end up enriching the Asian country and perhaps, other countries in Europe and America.

Dogara, who recently paid a working visit to the moribund Ajaokuta steel complex, averred that “As we move towards the Mambilla Power Projects, we are utilising millions in tonnes of steel, and if we don’t have a robust steel sector, all the money would go to China, for instance, where we will be importing this steel from.

“The second Niger Bridge is there, it’s going to also consume millions of tonnes of steel. If care is not taken, China will also earn all the money. So what are we doing as a government to ensure this doesn’t happen?

“Without the aluminum and steel sector, there cannot be industrialisation in Nigeria. The President of Ghana was speaking recently before an enlightened audience and he spoke of the need for Ghana to have a steel plant and they are starting soon. So if care is not taken, Nigeria, the giant of Africa, will be importing steel from Ghana.”

In the same vein, Dogara linked the government’s campaign and sloganeering about agricultural development in Nigeria without strategic provision of mechanised tools and subsidies to farmers for agricultural revolution to work

. He said: “To be very frank, if we don’t talk of mechanisation and subsidies for farmers, any talk about revolution in agriculture without mechanisation and subsidy is just rendering cheap talk. It will not be competitive and it will not work.

Before resigning his ministerial appointment to run for Ekiti State guber elections, Dr Kayode Fayemi who served as Minister of Solid Minerals had plotted to sell off the complex, but for the intervention of the lawmakers and Kogi indigenes who revealed along with the handling contractor that the complex needs less than N10bn to be completed and inaugurated for rolling out steels and iron products.

Besides, estimates reveal that the combined total cost of steel and iron rods needed for the construction of Mambilla Power scheme and second Niger Bridge is more than N25bn meaning that if N10bn is raised for the completion and production starts, it will save well over N15bn for the government.

However, the federal government may not have thought it through.