22 December 2015, Abuja – Ghana, once known as Gold Coast, and a leading producer of gold, will not only be bested by Nigeria in the production of the commodity, but Africa’s most populous country will do so three times over once Nigeria fully begins the exploitation and control of the precious metal along with other solid minerals, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said monday.
He also said at his maiden press briefing that though he had heard that there was an international conspiracy to thwart the effective operationalisation of Ajaokuta Steel Company, no amount of conspiracy could stop a determined nation and as such, this administration would work towards putting it back into operation.
“We are the architects of our own fortunes,” Fayemi remarked. “No international conspiracy can stop a determined nation. We need to fix Ajaokuta Steel Plant, and we will fix it.”
He stated that after a tour of the plant’s complex which is a city of its own, he could not understand why the government had not fixed it, although he acknowledged that the amount required to do it was so humongous that the government would need to partner private investors to achieve the target.
Fixing Ajaokuta is not a matter of the plant alone; it is also a matter of the infrastructure to aid Ajaokuta perform better. Coking coal cannot be got except through a deep seaport; and even when you produce the steel, the central rail line that we have is only stopping in Abuja,” he said, adding that there was need to take the rail line to Ajaokuta and complete the one from Itakpe where the iron ore company is, to Warri.
According to him, the decision on what to do with the Ajaokuta and Aladja steel companies would be taken by the end of the first quarter. The choices, he added, are whether to take them over or go into partnership with investors.
“One thing we can guarantee is that this administration will make choices that will ensure that Nigeria and her partners, domestic and foreign, create a profitable safe and sustainable solid minerals growth story. Hold us to account and challenge us.”
Fayemi also stated that technically, 13 per cent derivation that goes to oil-bearing communities should also apply to the solid minerals sector.
To this end, he said he would soon discuss with the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC) on how to include it in the revenue sharing formula of the federation. “If the oil and gas sector can have it, there is no reason why the solid mineral sector should not have it,” he declared.
- This Day