The Senate has said that N3billion which is not provided for the reactivation of the 21 plants next year of the multi-million dollars Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Project which has been under construction for close to 40 years will stop the resuscitation of the project.
According to the Senate, if this is not addressed quickly and the N3billion required to use in facilitating the engagement of experts from Russia for reactivation of the 21 plants in the Iron and Steel Complex, is not included in the 2021 budget earmarked for the Ministry Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals, the hope of realising the dream will not be feasible and will end up in a mirage.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja, Chairman, Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines and Steel Development, Senator Tanko Almakura, All Progressives Congress (APC) Nasarawa South, said that he had made a presentation to the Senate Committee on Appropriations during the presentation of the 2021 budget estimates of the Ministry to the committee on Thursday last week.
Al-Makura has also lamented that the Staff of the Iron and Steel Complex working in the Mining Cadastral Office will not be getting their monthly salaries from January next year as World Bank responsible for that had already informed the country of its pulling out of the gesture from January 2021.
The former Nasarawa State governor who noted that remarks made by the Committee on Appropriations led by Senator Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North) for provision of the money in the final report on the 2021 budget were not assuring enough, said, “Nigeria has spent a lot on the Ajaokuta project than to allow just N3billion to make her decade’s old efforts a mirage.
“Resuscitation of Ajaokuta is key to industrialization and development of the country. The Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals Ministry appealed to us during budget defence to effect appropriation for the N3billion.
“Since we cannot on our own as joint committees on Mines, Steel, and Solid Minerals, increase the enveloped budget presented to us by the Ministry, we pushed the appeal to the Appropriation Committee for the required appropriation.
“The N3billion is very necessary to be provided for in saving the Iron and Steel Project from total comatose.”
Almakura noted that completion of the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Project would serve as required catalyst for diversification of the Nation’s economy which is one of the key policies of President Muhammad Buhari-led’s government.
On staff who may not be collecting their salaries from next year January, Senator Almakura explained that they are contract staff working at the mining cadastral office of the complex and whose monthly salaries have been footed in the past years, from interventions from the World Bank which had notified the country that it will stop that gesture after December this year.
When contacted on the phone about whether the N3billion will be appropriated as the additional fund for the Iron and Steel Company, Senator Barau was evasive.
Barau said that though diversification of the nation’s economy is a necessity at this time, the paucity of funds remains the stumbling block in acceding to such demands since the 2021 N13.08 trillion budget was projected on expected revenues and not monies already warehoused somewhere.