The Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) is now warming up to pick up finally, The DEFENDER can authoritatively report.
This is happening 40 years after it was conceptualized and launched as a steel rolling mill to address a major industrial need to make Nigeria a truly developed country but frustrated by corrupt and unpatriotic disposition of successive administrations of the past.
Under the Muhammadu Buhari Administration, the company is now said to be coming back alive and this had been said before Dr. John Kayode Fayemi resigned to prepare for his governorship election in Ekiti State.
It will be recalled that it was under Fayemi as Minister of Mines and Steel Development of Buhari’s government that the project popularly known as Ajaokuta Steel Mill is breathing life again.
The Ajaokuta Steel Company is Nigeria’s largest steel plant located in Ajaokuta, Kogi State, Nigeria.
Built on a 24,000 hectares (59,000 acres) site in 1979 with the coke oven and byproducts plant larger than all the refineries in Nigeria combined is reported to finally start production, four decades after.
The DEFENDER can confirm this following a video clip of an interview granted Channels Maope by the former Minister, Fayemi, on the Ajaokuta project.
Speaking about developments in his ministry, the Minister of Mines and Steel, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in September last year, long before his recent resignation to contest for Ekiti State governorship in the July 14, 2018 election, had told Channels Television in Abuja how the national steel rolling mill was getting ready to bounce back.
In the interview he granted the privately owned television station, Fayemi had expressed sadness pointing out that it was a shame that Nigeria had not put the Ajaokuta Steel Company to use.
Among some of the issues he raised were the rebranding concept, the problems surrounding the company which he attributed to the level of corruption especially by previous governments as well as access to loans by small scale miners.
Unveiling his plans during the exclusive interview on Channels Television’s programme, “Question Time”, the then Minister of the Federal Republic diffused what many have described as a tragic, never-ending fairy-tale of Ajaokuta steel as he said the status of the company now is that it is getting back on feet.
What has baffled many watchers of events, who have noted how Nigerian Press hype negative news against the Buhari’s government, is that they say the media has continued to be silent about the positive development in the core economic sector like the Ajaokuta Steel Company being one of the achievements of the his government.
In that interview, Fayemi had said, “The status of the Ajaokuta steel company is that we are getting it back. It is a Federal Government of Nigeria’s owned company. Let’s start with that. Nigeria decided to concession it out to a private investor, that didn’t work out well. A government came, that government revoked the concession. We ended up in the London court of international arbitration. We have now resolved that mediation. What we are doing currently opposed mediation activities in the sense that we agreed to give the National Iron Mining Corp company back to the concessionaire whilst taking the Ajaokuta steel plant back into the Federal Government coffers with a view to re-concessioning it.
“Some people feel the Ajaokuta steel company has been an institutional conduit to siphon money from the coffers of the Federal Government.
“Well it might have been, I don’t know, I have no evidence to suggest it’s a conduit but Nigeria has expended a lot of money – not less than $5bn has been expended on that particular facility and I think it’s a shame that we have not put it to use. So we as a government, President Buhari made that clear on a campaign trail that we would put Ajaokuta to use,” he said.