By Chimezie Godfrey
President Muhammadu Buhari has restated his administration’s commitment to transform Nigeria into an industrialized nation.
Buhari made the promise on Thursday in Abuja, at the National Conference on Ajaokuta Steel Project with theme, “Ajaokuta Steel Project and President Muhammadu Buhari Industrialization Agenda.”
Buhari who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha was glad that the conference was dedicated to the aspect of the nation’s development that requires effective collaboration between the public and private sector for the overall development of the country.
He said,”I am gladdened by the fact that this conference is dedicated to an aspect of our development that requires effective collaboration between the public and private sector for the overall development of the country.
“The topic,”Ajaokuta Steel Project and President Muhammadu Buhari Industrialization Agenda” clearly resonates with President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to addressing the country’s challenges in Industrialization development with a perspective of meeting today’s demands and satisfying tomorrow’s needs.
“The Federal Government has restated its commitment at ensuring the transformation of Nigeria into an industrialized nation with production and manufacturing playing the pivotal role.
“In actualizing the government’s industrialization agenda, the President stated that policies and structures such as the Medium – Term National Development Plan 2021-2025 (MTNDF) have been put in place to boost national productivity, hence Industrialization in the country.
“It goes without saying that the state of our infrastructure has deeply eroded the competitiveness of the sector. The supply of electricity, access to our ports and their low operating efficiencies, the poor condition of most of our highways and waterways and the insufficient of rail network. All these constitute impediments to the operating efficiencies of our Industrialization effort inducing high costs of production and distribution and rendering our capacity uncompetitive.”
The President stated that infrastructure is a key index of a country’s economic position at the global stage, adding that developing infrastructure augments a country’s productivity, making firms more competitive and boosting the overall economy of a nation.
To this end, he said, countries need to build new infrastructure like roads, railway lines, buildings and bridges, and also need it to lay new pipelines for gas, water and sanitation, among others.
He further stated that the success of Ajaokuta is paramount for the nation’s industrial vision, coupled with the fact that Steel is the material of choice for many elements of manufacturing, construction, transportation, and various consumer products.
In a good will message, Prof JK Obatala, of the National Space Research and Development Agency, Abuja, said the event is historic, adding that new social ground has been broken with NGO Network, the Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa and the CSO Coalition for the Revival of Ajaokuta, as the pioneers.
He expressed his desire that the effort will coalesce into a national steel interest that will set Nigeria on the path to rapid Industrialization.
“My fervent wish, is that the activists who have ushered Nigerian into this wondrous new social vista, will coalesce into a national steel interest group whose purview encompasses the entire industry, including the legislature.
“Its charge , would be to ensure that there is never a repeat of the policy lapses that stymied the steel Sector, after Russia and Eastern Black countries had set Nigeria on the path to rapid Industrialization.
“This could, conceivably, provide the impetus for other interest groups to emulate the steel coalitions and safeguard sectors such as “Space, Atomic, Energy, Plastics and Aluminium,” he said.
The Sole Administrator, Ajaokuta Steel Complex, Engr. Sumaila Akaba, represented by Alh MLD Ibrahim, noted that “one of the greatest challenges the Ajaokuta Steel has faced is the misrepresentation of facts of facts.
“Ajaokuta is not 40% technically completed, but the truth of the is, Ajaokuta before 2015 was 98% technically completed that is the fact. Three technical (audits) took place 2010 was one, and the last one was 2015, of course just like every human being, we degenerate one way or the other.As at 2015 when the last technical audit was conducted Ajaokuta is 95.3% technically concluded. This is the present status.
“The Russian Technology is not obsolete, as at 2012 there as general believe that the Russian Technology is obsolete, the black furnace is obsolete, I happened to be part of the persons that did the research with African Mines and Steel Association. During that exercise we found out that these countries Russia , America, China, India, they actually build blast furnaces. If they were building new blast furnaces, what does this indicate?
“The challenges of the past has been taken headline by the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. We therefore make bold to say here that the “SUSHI Agreement” initiated by Mr President is the boldest and most courageous ever taken on Ajaokuta Steel Plant in a very long while,” he said.
Dignitaries who graced the occasion include the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamikekan Adegbite, Otunba Ajayi Smith, Dr Lanre Adebayo, Director General, Institute for Governance and Leadership Studies in Africa, Mr. Mohammed Bougei Attah, National Coordinator, CSO Coalition for the Revival of Ajaokuta Steel Company, Mr Danlami Nmodu, mni, Editor-in-Chief, Newsdiaryonline,Abuja.
Other are Hajia Zuwaira Gambo, Hon. Commissioner, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mr. Wale Aberdeen, Security Monitor, News Media, Mr. Arimie Biebele, University of Port Harcourt, Hajia Medina Dauda Nadabo, VOA Bureau Coordinator, Mr. Paul A. Agbo, Chief Operating Officer, Leadership Newspaper, among others.