17 August 2014, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ISSSAN, says unless the nation’s steel industry is revived, unemployment problem would persist in the country.
According to Deputy-General Secretary of the association, Mr Adewale Okesola, who stated this in Lagos, the “death” of the steel industry in the country aggravated the nation’s unemployment rate.
This is due to the potential of the industry to create massive employment, Okesola said as he urged the Federal Government to ensure the revival of the various government-owned steel plants across the country.
Citing the Ajaokuta Steel Company, ASCON, as an example, he revealed that the plant, if revived, could employ no fewer than 140,000 Nigerians.
“If Ajaokuta alone can absorb so much unemployed Nigerians, then we can be sure that the other steel firms, if also revived, would employ much more.
“So, let the government ensure the revival of the steel companies scattered around the country. By the time Ajaokuta, Delta, Osogbo, Jos and Kastina steel firms are revived, we will not be talking of unemployment in the country,’’ he said.
Okesola added that apart from creating direct employment, the revival of the steel sector would also create indirect employment for millions of Nigerians.
Their revival, according to him, would definitely aid the growth of the country’s new automobile industry and the transformation of the epileptic Nigerian Railway Corporation.
He said: “Government knows the genesis of the nation’s calamity in terms of unemployment, except if they do not want to be sincere.
“If the government can be sincere and focused; if they can pump money such that the steel industry will pick up, we will forget some of our current plagues”.
The union’s secretary stated that lack of commitment, corruption and politicisation of the steel sector, were responsible for its ruin.
He added that the problems had also hindered all efforts to transform the industry.
The Federal Government-owned steel plants located in Ajaokuta, Jos, Delta, and Oshogbo have been comatose following the government’s inability to maintain them and failure of privatisation to sustain them.
Nigeria possesses over 2 billion tonnes of iron ore deposits, but the lack of operation of these plants has seen Nigeria importing about 17 million tonnes of steel and allied products yearly with local steel production, estimated at 2.5 million tonnes, being only from 100 per cent melting of scrap metals.
This un-encouraging situation had recently prompted Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Musa Sada, to state that Nigeria could miss out on the 15 million tonnes per year target of locally manufactured steel, set for 2020.