By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
The Federal Government has stated that it may consider developing a road-map for the rehabilitation of the comatose Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, ASCL, to bring the company to functional capacity in order to attract investors.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Musa Mohammed Sada, who disclosed this when he received a delegation of indigenes of Mani in Katsina State comprising the traditional chiefs, politicians, and youths who paid him a solidarity visit in his office, noted that the government was determined to bring the ailing steel mill back to life.
According to him, the yearnings of masses for the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited could only be achieved with a well articulated roadmap for the sector.
During a recent inspection of the company, Sada further confirmed that some sections of ASCL will be opened for operation, and that N650 million has been set aside to re-start the plant shut since 2008.
He stated that, “We have already set aside N650 million as seed funds to start some parts of Ajaokuta, and the money will be released very soon to the Interim Management Committee of the two companies. We are sure that when they start operation, they would be able to generate fund and sustain the two companies.”
According to him, the units to be opened for operation at Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited are the Light section mill, the Wire rod mill, the Engineering workshops and the Thermal Power Plant.
On NIOMCO, the Minister said that Bergeaud Plant would be operationalised, stressing that he had received the Technical Audit Report on the two companies and that the reports would facilitate the re-opening exercise.
The minister also explained that the Federal Government was examining the previous failed concession agreements on the two entities to avoid mistakes of the past.
Arc. Sada disclosed that his appointment as the Minister of Mines and Steel Development has made him to discover the vast solid mineral resources across the states of the country, adding that this development has made it possible for the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency to carry out a Geological Survey of the mineral resources in Katsina State.
He explained that mining activities involves funding which could be facilitated by forming cooperative groups so as to get the required technical know-how and funding.
Arc. Sada informed the delegation of the Ministry’s preparedness to come up with an articulated roadmap for the sustainable development of the nation’s minerals and metal sector.
Meanwhile, the Minister has promised to continue to be a good ambassador of Katsina State and Nigeria as he discharges his duties in the Ministry.
He noted that, “As an ambassador to Mani and Katsina at large, I will never disappoint you.
While expressing his appreciation for the visit, the Minister said he was impressed by the large turnout of the delegation and expressed his readiness to assist the people of Katsina.
He then pledged to make judicious use of his tenure to reposition the minerals and metal sector for the socio-economic development of the country.
In her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs. Elizabeth Emuren thanked the delegation for the visit and confidence reposed on the Minister by choosing him for a second term as the Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the people of Mani in Katsina State.
Earlier in his address, the District Head of Mani in Katsina State and leader of the delegation, Alhaji Umar Babani Isaa Mani said the purpose of the visit was to congratulate the Minister on his reappointment, having done well in the state during his tenure as the Commissioner of Works and the Minister of Mines and Steel Development during his first tenure.
He said “we have come to rejoice with you for coming back as Minister and we know you had the position of such before, though for a small time but we saw the dividends”.
Alhaji Babani solicited for the Minister’s continued support for the people of Mani and Katsina at large.
He also expressed optimism that the Minister would perform optimally in his second –coming to move the minerals and metal sector forward.