Ajaokuta Steel: Buhari’s Economic Team Unpatriotic, Incompetent – Senator Adeyemi

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Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC/Kogi West) has questioned the competence of President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic team.

Senator Adeyemi, while fielding questions from journalists on why the Ajaokuta Steel Company is not getting the appropriate attention from Federal Government on Monday, said President Buhari’s economic team was clearly out of tune with realities on ground as regards what Nigerians needed.

According to him, Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex that could give jobs to about 50, 000 Nigerians had been lying fallow in a country with army of unemployed youths.

“And you ask a question, the economic team of Mr President, are they Nigerians? If they are Nigerians it means they are not in tune with realities of this country today. Today, we have a large army of unemployed people and you are bringing a budget system that is so annoying, so questionable, so dubious.

“Now, how do you justify a ministry in Nigeria asking for the Senate to approve N82 billion to buy mosquito nets? This is money that is more than enough to kick-start or at least give appreciable improvement on the iron and steel complex.

“Nigeria is a country where people do not address issues the way they are. I doubt if the economic team are in terms with the vision of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, because I cannot see any economic team preparing a budget not looking at job creation, wealth creation in a nation where we have a large of younger ones who have no jobs.

“A country that is coping with global economic recession, yet you are not looking at how you will improve your foreign exchange earnings, you are asking us to come and approve N82 billion to buy nets. Those ministers should be sent to jail. Assuming the national assembly decide to compromise and approve it, let the mosquito kill us. It is so annoying that a country where people are begging for three square meals you are coming with request for N82billion to buy nets.

“Iron and steel complex is fundamental to the socio-economic development, technological growth of Nigeria and wealth creation. We need to x-ray who are the economic team of the President as to whether they are competent or patriotic to hold such position,” he said.

Senator Adeyemi said the problem of Nigeria is that “we have some people who do not want this country to move forward. These are elites. They are people who are wicked capitalists who don’t want this country to move forward, and they are everywhere. Some of us who speak the truth do so at our risk because we know those who are involved. We know those who want to tie this country down. Why will anybody in his right senses prepare a budget without the iron and steel complex getting good funding when we have armies of Nigerian youths without jobs and you are asking us to continue to import steel from India while you have your own plant here. Is it not wickedness? How do you describe that?”

Adeyemi recalled that the current administration promised to revive and complete the Ajaokuta Steel Company six years ago.

“What do we tell the electorate when we finish eight years without completing the iron and steel complex?,” he asked.

The lawmaker called for a change from envelope form of budgeting riddled with repetition of line items and allocations on yearly basis.

“More than anytime in the history of our dear nation, we need to start looking at the mode of preparing budget in Nigeria. A good budget must not be just for expenditure, but a budget that is targeted towards wealth creation. So that you can provide jobs for people who are unemployed and you can help to accelerate the socio-economic development of the nation.

“Today, the kind of budgeting system we have is that of the one we inherited from the military. It is not a democratic budgeting system. A democratic budgeting system will allow inputs from nooks and crannies of the country on issues of national interest. In essence, if you had asked us in Kogi state what will be our priority in terms of 2022 budget, we will tell you come and complete the iron and steel complex. Not for the sake of Kogi state but Nigeria as a whole. This is a complex that will provide about 50,000 jobs, about 20,000 engineers and technicians.

“We will not be afraid of telling the truth that some persons deliberately does not want this country to grow. You think some us came here to play? We came here to speak the truth to government so that this country can be better for all of us. That is our position. It is not all of us that came here because we have nothing to do,” Adeyemi said.

He said building infrastructure is not as good as creating wealth through diversification of the economy, adding that the best way to achieve that is to remove whatever bottleneck is hindering continuation of work on Ajaokuta Steel complex and get it completed.

Adeyemi’s position was sequel to a proposed N23.4 billion 2022 budget estimates enveloped for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development as presented by the Minister of State, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah.

Ogah who represented the Minister, Olamilekan Adegbite in his presentation, said out of the N23.4 billion budget profile for the Ministry in 2022, N10 billion is for personnel cost, N1.47 billion for overhead cost and N11 billion for capital projects.

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