Jonathan and Zero Allocation to Ajaokuta

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SIR: “One thing that is dear to Nigerians is the Ajaokuta Steel Complex and until we revive that complex, we cannot talk about Vision 20:2020. This is because for you to play big globally, you must industrialize and for you to industrialize you must produce steel. The Ajaokuta complex must be revived.”

The above statement was made by President Goodluck Jonathan at his Presidential electioneering campaign rally in 2011 in Lokoja, Kogi State capital.

This assertion by Jonathan, no doubt, clearly agrees with the position of many Nigerians on the need to advance the country’s economy through the entrenchment of a vibrant and viable

steel sector.  After three years of making the pronouncement, nothing much seems to have been done by the President to actualise the completion of the steel company.

This was what prompted the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman recently to say that President Jonathan has not shown enough commitment to steel development in Nigeria. He stated this while condemning the zero allocation for capital projects in the company in the 2014 budget proposal, during the budget defence of Ministry of Mines and Steel.

The neglect of Ajaokuta Steel by successive governments has always been an issue of great concern to most Nigerians. Corruption and lack of political will on the part of government have been responsible for the non-completion of the project, whose contract was awarded since in the 70s.

It is expected that the National Assembly should be able to do something about the inclusion of capital allocation for the completion of the company in the budget. For all intents and purposes, our federal parliamentarians at the two chambers should, as a matter of urgency, make provisions for Ajaokuta Steel and the Nigerian Iron Ore Manufacturing Company( NIOMCO) in the current budget before them followed by a resolution on why the President must execute the project.

• Michael Jegede

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