By Chimezie Godfrey
A non-governmental organisation, NGO Network is working in collaboration with CSO Coalition for Ajaokuta Steel revival.
The Project Director, NGO Network, Mr Mohammed Attah, in a proposal addressed to the Chairman, Ajaokuta Presidential Project Implementation Team, Abuja, advocated for a joint Government-Civil Society Independent Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting.
In the proposal, the Mr Attah requested for support and partnership with the federal government to establish a Joint Independent Monitoring Evaluation Mechanism (IMEM), which he said was an essential component of the project.
He stated,” It is also to seek your approval support and partnership to establish a Joint Independent Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism (IMEM) as an essential component of the project.
“The mechanism, if approved, is expected to work under the direction of the appropriate Department of the Steel Plant.
“We wish to commend the Federal Government for this bold initiative to resolve the problem that has confounded policy makers and observers of the Nigerian environment in the last forty (40) years.
“This development underscores the commitment and political will of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR to effectively resolve this intractable problem.
“A successful revamping of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant will certainly have a salutary effect on the Country’s Strategy Economic Goals (CSEG), national security and attraction of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).
“It is not beyond doubt that a major issue that the Project Team will be confronted with is the challenge of perception arising from past failure.
“An independent monitoring mechanism being proposed will enhance transparency and accountability and therefore restore public confidence.”
Mr Attah stressed that Ajaokuta Steel Plant is not obsolete contrary to assumptions by some persimmists.
He noted that Nigeria’s biggest industrial investment in one location Ajaokuta Steel Plant was designed to produce liquid steel via the blast furnace, a major and current technology for steel production around the world.
He explained that for several years till date, over 70% of world steel production is via the Blast Furnace Process Technology.
“The choice of technology, Blast Furnace – Basic Oxygen Process (BF=BOF) is still the best and the most popular worldwide:It remains the most acceptable and applied technology in Iron making process.
“Most established technology Quite Energy efficient Capability of processing even the least acceptable grades of iron ore Quite flexible in operation.
“Easily adaptable to modernization and automation Total world crude steel production in year 2019 was about 1, 870, 000,000 (1.87 billion) tonsTotal world crude steel production via blast furnace in year 2019 was about 1,350,000,000 (1.35 billion) tons.
“Percentage of crude steel production via the blast furnace in year 2019 was about 72%.
“The following countries among others have recently built new BLAST FURNACES to improve their STEEL Production capacity: CHINA (produces over 50% of World’s Steel) RUSSIA UKRAINE, USA, INDIA, SOUTH KOREA, INDONESIA, UK,” he explained.
The Project Director pointed out that a completed Ajaokuta Steel will have a catalytic role and linkage effects on other sector of the national economy.
He noted that the gap between the developed and less developed nations has been a product of the technological and scientific superiority of the Developed Nations.
According to him, the developed nations are the industrialized nations, adding that industrialization is driven by technology; and technology is driven by steel.
“The steel sector is very critical to our national development because of its catalytic role and linkage effects on other sector of the national economy.It is an employment generator.
“Ajaokuta Steel Plant in the first phase will yield 10,000 direct technical jobs and 500,000 indirect unskilled , semi- skilled and skilled jobs in the downstream and upstream industries as well as services.
“This will translate to improved living standard for our citizen it will enhance peaceful environment and bring about better security when our youths are gainfully employedIt will bring about technological growth.
“It will stimulate skill acquisition developmentIt will bring about infrastructural developmentIt will actualize wealth creation through value addition to our solid mineral resourcesSteel development is a jealously and zealously guarded sector being strategic to the defense cells in the steel plant.
“It will boost our armament production plans. It is the bedrock of any nation’s industrialization.
“It is one of the main pillars of Nigeria industrial revolution plan (NIRP),” he stated.
Mr Attah commended the recent efforts by the Minister of Mines and Steel, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite to reposition Ajaokuta Steel Plant and to see its completion and commissioning.
According to him, the Minister has worked assiduously to realize a revamped and revived Ajaokuta Steel Plant in no distant time.
“The Honorable Minister in the past one year has worked assiduously to bring Ajaokuta Steel Company limited to the fore , he has actually visited Ajaokuta Steel plant for up to three times since resuming , he has been able to attract the attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria to a commitment to jump start the reactivation and completion of Ajaokuta Steel Plant.
“That commitment initiated the move for the meeting of President Mohammadu Buhari and President Putin of Russia in Sochi (Russia) in October 2019 that brought about the Government to Government agreement to reactivate , modernize, complete and operate Ajaokuta Steel Plant.
“This effort has resulted into the Federal government inaugurating the AJAOKUTA PRESIDENTIAL PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION TEAM (APPIT) the committee saddled with the implementation of the Government to Government agreement.
“This committee of which the HM is the co – Chairman has proceeded to achieve a lot towards realizing the goal, presently as soon as the COVID- 19 measures are relaxed for international flights the Russians are expected to come in for the Technical Audit of the Steel plant which is the first phase of the project implementation,” he stated.
Mr Attah further disclosed that in order to continue to add value to the good maintenance culture obtained in Ajaokuta Steel Plant, the minister has financially intervened in improving the Plant’s vast power facilities, water supply facilities and Security beef up of the Steel Plant, and ensure that the Steel Plant does not deteriorate.
He noted that history is yet to record a nation that achieved industrialization without first establishing a viable steel sector, adding that Nigeria cannot be an exception.