24 December 2013, Abuja – Considering the centrality of the iron and steel sector to this country’s industrial development, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has urged the federal government, as a matter of priority, to resuscitate the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
President of NSE, Mustafa Balarabe Shehu, made this appeal at the start of the week-long International Engineering Conference and Annual General Meeting tagged “Abuja 2013” in the federal capital.
Said Shehu: “The Nigerian Society of Engineers views with great concern and dissatisfaction the development of the iron and steel sector… Iron and steel industry is the bedrock of industrialisation all over the world and its consumption index determines the living standard of a country.”
For that reason, he noted, the Ajaokuta Steel Company “should be resuscitated and put into operation soonest. All the contentious issues need to be addressed. We have not passed the steel age.”
He warned that to make a success of the industry, the government should shun the recourse to foreign consultants and agents as they “would never encourage steel development in any third world country.”
Shehu remarked that the advantages accruable from the development of the iron and steel industry from local raw materials were unquantifiable.
He also called for the urgent construction of the seventh production train of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) in Bonny which, he said, would greatly improve the production capacity of the company, leading to increased revenue generation and the creation of employment opportunities for engineers and other professionals.
The NSE boss lamented that although all the enabling facilities had been provided for the construction of the seventh production train, the government was yet to take a decision, thus stalling the process.
On the need to promote and protect indigenous manufacturing concerns, including steel industries, he disclosed: “Most of them are winding down due to lack of an appropriate policy to protect” them. “If the Federal Government’s Transformation is anything to go by, then now is the zero hour to really come up with policies and pronouncements that will adequately protect and promote the indigenous manufacturing concerns and subsequently expand the country’s industrialisation process.”
President of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations, Marwan Abdelhamid, said one objective of this conference was to increase the presence of Africa in the WFEO, adding that the NSE was a pillar in that regard.
Shehu also re-emphasised the need for the government to initiate a deliberate policy to protect local steel and manufacturing industries which, it said, were closing down and sacking thousands of workers at the expense of foreign imported goods being dumped on the Nigerian market in an unfair global competition.