Workers of Ajaokuta Steel Company, through their unions, have cautioned some Nigerian elites who have made themselves willing tools in the hands of their foreign sponsors on the ‘Kill Ajaokuta Steel Company’ syndrome.
They said it is not just a sabotage against the company but against the envisaged accelerated industrialization of Nigeria.
Reacting to a publication in the Daily Trust newspaper of Monday, 25th April, 2022, captioned, ‘despite 4trn investment, hope dims for Ajaokuta Steel take-off’, the workers said the paper was misled into coming to some stereotype conclusions that are not only false but has become a sing song for few Nigerian elites who have chosen the path of dishonour for mother Nigeria and its people.
The statement was jointly signed by Kabiru A. Haruna, Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria; Yahaya Ovajimoh, Branch Chairman, Nigerian Union of Mines Workers; Anouda Umar Isah, Chairman, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria; and Usman Bashir, Branch Chairman, Steel Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria.
The statement said; “The attention of the entire workers of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant has been drawn to the interview granted your Newspaper, the Daily Trust by one Professor Ibrahim Garba who according to your report is a geologist and a former staff of the Mining Cadastral Office of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
“Over the years, a group of elites have sadly become a tool in the hands of international conspirators against the industrial development of Nigeria and have consistently targeted and demonized the growth and development of the Steel Sector and particularly the Ajaokuta Steel Plant.
“What we discovered was that each time a government shows interest in making the plant work; these wolves invade the media space, hoodwink and stamped policy drivers into fright just like the story ran by your esteemed news medium, the Daily Trust in its edition of Monday, 25th April, 2022.”
The unions argued that Ajaokuta Steel plant was conceived and designed based on a detailed project report conducted between 1967 and 1969, with a geological survey for the identification of suitable raw materials for its operation.
The unions stressed that it was based on this report that the Itakpe Iron Ore and others were identified as suitable for the establishment of a Blast Furnace Technology based Integrated Iron and Steel Plant in Ajaokuta.
They added that further studies was conducted by Messrs Technoexportret of the then USSR in 1970 to determine the quality and quantity of the iron ore deposits found in Nigeria, noting that by 1973, good iron ore deposits were found at Itakpe, Ajabanako, Oshokoshoko, all within Okene, Kabba and Lokoja.
Other mineral resources like dolomite, limestone, marble and refractory clay were also found in the right mix.
“The conclusion of tests conducted on Nigeria’s Iron Ore shows it has 60% pure Iron content. This led to the establishment of the National Iron Mining Company, Itakpe to add value through beneficiation of the discovered iron ore to between 63-65% concentrate level.
“This report therefore favoured and determined not only the development of an Iron and Steel Plant in Nigeria; it also determined the Blast Furnace Technology for use in Nigeria. So it is therefore NOT TRUE that the Iron Ore in Itakpe an indeed Nigeria is not good for the Ajaokuta Steel Plant process.
“The Professor got it wrong and has misled the nation and Nigerians. The Guinean Iron Ore was NEVER contemplated for the Ajaokuta Steel Plant as claimed by Professor Garba. The sources of ALL the raw materials for the Ajaokuta Steel Plant operation were clearly identified, surveyed and mapped by the National Geological Survey Office which eventually became the National Steel Exploration Agency, Kaduna.
“Apart from coking coal, all identified and verified raw materials for Ajaokuta Steel Plant including iron ore are domiciled within Nigeria. The Guinean iron ore was meant for the Delta Steel Plant and when the Beneficiation Plant of the National Iron Ore Mining Company Itakpe was completed, the proceeds were tested in Delta Steel and it passed the test.
“A second beneficiation line was therefore planned to prepare the Itakpe Iron Ore for both Ajaokuta Steel Plant and Delta Steel Plant. It is also NOT true that Nigeria does not have a good grade iron ore.”
The unions called on these elites to stop the mischief and demonization of Ajaokuta steel plant and its workers and joined other well meaning Nigerians to see to the completion and operation of the steel plant to fast track the much anticipated industrial revolution of the country.
“China started crudely they are there today. Let Ajaokuta be. Support us with sound ideas and join us as partners to make Ajaokuta work. Please seek for genuine and correct information from the true industry players and NOT Passer-byes. Talk with the Nigerian Metallurgical Society, talk with the Nigerian Society of Engineers, talk with the Union of the Workers.
“As stated earlier, a Professor of Geology is NOT a Professor of Metallurgy. While hoping you will correct this misinformation and campaign against Ajaokuta Steel Plant and its workers, we assure you of our esteemed regards and cooperation.”