Reps’ Committee Slams Fed Govt on Ajaokuta Rolling Mill

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•‘Steel mill to begin operation soon’

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Industry has criticised the Federal Government and wealthy Nigerians for failing to revive the Ajaokuta Rolling Mill in Kogi State.

The committee’s Chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Onawo, addressed reporters yesterday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, after his committee’s oversight function to KAM Industries Limited.

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, recently visited the private indigenous steel rolling mill as a prelude to its inauguration.

Onawo said: “What we have seen today is quite overwhelming. It is the dogged effort of an individual who is determined to make a change in Nigeria. In the past, people depended so much on the government. That is why I say it is a challenge to the Federal Government for not being able to complete the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill.

“It is (also) a challenge to other billionaires in Nigeria who just stock money in their houses or take their money outside the country. And when they die, their people cannot even access it.

“There have been these huge cries by everybody that there is no good road; that’s why industries cannot function. With that same environment, you can see the difference here. It is just a way of commitment, and this goes to show that the government alone cannot do it.

“So, if an edifice like this is established, you can see that Nigeria, in the shortest possible time, can become an industrial nation. Without things like that, our dream of 2020 can just be a mirage.”

The management of Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State has said its steel rolling mill, a major section of the factory, will soon begin operation.

The steel rolling company has a chequered history since it was established over decades ago.

The management said it had begun preparation for the take-off of the steel company, after several delays by successive governments.

The Managing Director of REPROM Nigeria Limited, Mr Attah Achimugu, told The Nation that the contract for the lubrication of the rolling mill had been awarded.

Achimugu said the rolling mill would have begun operation long ago, but was delayed by the contractor.

He said REPROM cannot wait again for the contractor, because it has awarded the contract to another competent firm.

The managing director said once the mill was lubricated and begins operation, its complete take-off would be assured.

On the prohibitive lending rates by commercial banks, the lawmaker said: “The Federal Government and the National Assembly are frowning at the present high rate of lending, the high rate of interest.


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