NASENI Berates IMF, World Bank for Ajaokuta Steel Plant Failure

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The Executive Vice Chairman of the National Agency For Science Engineering and Infrastructure (NASENI) Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna, has disclosed that the abysmal performance of Nigeria’s steel sector was caused by the connivance of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Nigerian politicians who deliberately crippled the Ajaokuta Steel Company thereby contributed to its failure.

Prof Haruna said this when he appeared as a guest speaker during a retreat for the newly constituted National Steel Council in Abuja.

Speaking further, Haruna said the federal government was keen on revamping the sector in order to speed up the industrialisation of the country.

According to Haruna, consulting firms engaged to serve as watchdogs, PACMECON and one other firm connived to short-change the country and the operation was politicised locally and undermined internationally.

“These conspiracies and the IMF/ World Bank wrong doses targeted at worsening our sickness and the collapse of the Soviet Union combined; grounded and terminated the dream of Nigeria to industrialise and earn huge revenue from the Iron and Steel sector second only to oil and gas.

“We have not forgotten the criminal action of the Indian firm, Global Steel Holdings Limited that carted away some installed machinery and equipment via seaports in the name of repairs and lease,”

“Ajaokuta steel that was said to have reached 98 per cent completion as far back as 1994 had not produced a single steel till date even and that the federal government had spent over $10 billion over 34 years and would require another $2 billion to complete the remaining two per cent of the plant”.

He lamented that the steel plant’s first phase, which has the capacity to provide direct employment for 10,000 technical staff and indirect 500,000 for unskilled upstream and downstream employment, is yet to come to full operations while its contemporaries in other parts of the world are performing optimally and taking over the global steel market.

“South Korea, which started its steel construction around the same time with Ajaokuta steel, now has a revenue base of over N60 billion dollars per annum and employs over 65,000 staff.”

“Ajaokuta steel would have done better if it had started production. According to the World Steel Association (WSA) report, South Africa and Egypt produced 6.1 and 5.0 million tonnes of steel in 2016, while South Africa is the 22nd on the list of countries in steel production, Egypt is the 27th”.

“China, the world’s largest steel producer topped the chart with a production of 808.4 million tonnes representing about 50 per cent of global steel output for 2016, as Japan and India produced 104.8 and 95.6 million tonnes of crude steel to maintain the second and third position on the list.

“Virtually all the nations that are playing big globally have enhanced capacities for steel production.
Even those that do not have any of the key mineral inputs needed for steelmaking have over the years developed the capacity to produce steel.

“Japan and South Korea, for instance, have no mineral resources for iron and steel, but they rank among the world’s top 10 countries in steel production.

“Nigeria that is blessed with raw materials such as iron ore, coal, natural gas and limestones needed for the manufacture of steel is still struggling with what to do with the dormant plant”

The constitution of the Council will give authority and direction to the sector, which was lacking since the enactment of the Steel Act over 40 years ago. He also assured that the federal government will ensure that this all-important sector of the economy is brought to the mainstream.

Chairman of the National Steel Council, Mohammed Murtala Aliyu, told reporters in an interview that the Council will work with NASENI and a number of other institutions to harmonise the efforts aimed at resuscitating the sector.

“The Nigerian steel industry is in bad shape because if you look at the per capita consumption Nigeria is below average”.

“Looking at our population, what we noticed is that the steel sector has been running in bits and pieces, and this is the first time since the enactment of the Act on Steel 40 years ago that such efforts would be made adding that the Council will do its best to revamp the sector”.

Credit: Tribune

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