The attention of the Righteous On-Lookers Association has been drawn to the cover page story of the Daily Trust Newspaper of April 25, 2022, titled “Despite N4 Trillion Investment hope Dims for Ajaokuta Steel Take-Off”, by one Hamisu Kabir Matazu.
The full page report on Ajaokuta Steel Company quoted one Professor Ibrahim Garba, a geologist and former Director General, Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Abuja, as confirming that the steel plant’s chances of taking-off are slim, because the plant was predicated on a low grade Iron-Ore, needed for the smooth operation of the rolling mill.
Surprisingly and of serious concern is the fact that Prof. Ibrahim Garba’s verdict is coming at a time Nigerians are made to believe that the Federal Government is making a renewed efforts to salvage the steel plant that is 98% completed.
The professor of geology who rated Iron-Ore deposit in Nigeria as very low in quality, explained that it was for this simple reason Nigeria had rely on Guinea’s high grade Iron-Ore to blend Nigerian’s low quality one before milling, by the time the steel plant commence full operation.
Prof. Ibrahim Garba who went further to blame past administration that conceived the idea of the steel plant, for its little knowledge of issues relating to steel, turned round to say that Nigeria’s low grade Iron-Ore can be developed using a new technology of eliminating unwanted parts of the Iron-Ore, as discovered by the Chinese.
The Professor was also quoted to have flatly written-off the Iron-Ore deposit in Itakpe by saying, “the main Iron-Ore deposit for Ajaokuta Steel is found in Itakpe-Okene and that it is not only of low quality such as 35%, instead of 50-60%, the deposit is only 300 Million tons, which according to him is small in quantity”.
One is perplexed that Prof. Ibrahim who had worked on secondment at the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development as Director General who spear-headed the development/implementation of the mining cadastre system in Nigeria, could not advice the Federal Government via the Ministry nor raise this alarm all this while, until now.
One is therefore tempted to doubt the patriotism and sincerity of Professor Ibrahim, who, on one hand disqualified Iron-Ore in Nigeria as low grade and on the other hand said that a high quality Iron-Ore can be found around Lokoja, a distance of 40 minutes’ drive from Itakpe.
If the Federal Government, through the Hon. Minister of Mines and Solid Minerals Development had continued to assure and brief Nigerians on the steps being taken by government on the final completion of the steel project, one is right to question, who is saying the truth between government and the professor.
Is it not right to conclude that the steel project have become a political issue, just as it was with successive past governments? The Righteous On-Lookers Association has raised the above questions judging the fact that Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has spent 7 out of the administration’s 8years of two terms in office, yet, nothing concrete has been achieved in respect of the completion of the steel project.
It baffles patriotic Nigerians, the snail speed at which the present government is handling the issues of the completion of Ajaokuta Steel Project. In all honesty, it falls short of the dream and vision of the founding fathers, which is to have a reliable steel industry that will not only form the bedrock of the country’s industrialization, but also place her in a competitive position with her counterparts worldwide.
Is it not worrisome that Nigeria is still dependent on petrol as her major foreign exchange earner, a product that is under serious threat from global shift to nuclear energy sources?
On the argument that the steel project has gulped N4 Trillion, yet it is still at 98% stage of completion. Does that calls for Nigerian government to abandon the project and allow the huge investment go down the drain?
It is wiser that Nigerian government source for funds to complete the remaining 2% of the project, instead of wasting years on how and when to conduct technical audit of the project, and exercise that is yet to see the light of the day.
It is an open fact that the country is presently faced with over-whelming security challenges, such as armed robbery, Kidnapping, Banditry, Boko Haram, Yahoo activities and lots more.
These challenges are traceable to the unemployment problem in the country.
Whereas, if Ajaokuta had been completed and in full operation, the project is said to be capable of generating employment for over 10,000 technical staffs and over 500,000 unskilled upstream and downstream employments that would have taken some unemployed youths off the street and consequently reduce crime in our society.
From the foregoing, the Righteous On-Lookers view the alarm raised by Prof. Ibrahim Garba as an indirect challenge and a minus on the integrity of the Buhari’s administration.
Enough is enough of playing politics with the steel project.
– Alhaji Ahmed Adoke
Patron, Righteous On-Lookers Association