By: Wale Ibrahim, Lokoja
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), has added its voice to the clarion calls by well meaning Nigerians that the multi billion dollars” Ajaokuta Steel Company project must not die”.
The National President of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Alhaji Waheed Odusile who made this call while speaking during the facility tour of Ajaokuta Steel Complex as part of activities marking Democracy day programme organised by the Kogi State Council, tasked the federal government to ensure the final completion of the 34 years old steel plant.
He explained given the technical audit report, the plant is functional contrary to believed that it is moribund, noting that by the international standard, blast furnace still remains the best technology for production of liquid iron all over the world ,adding that Ajaokuta steely plant is 98 percent completion since 1994.
The President therefore appealed to the federal government to remove all impediments miliating against steel plant, saying that Ajaokuta Steel plant has a vital role to play in diversification of economy. Policy of the present administration particularly with down turn in the oil sector.
He added that a functional Ajaokuta Plant without doubt will ignite the much awaited industrialization in Nigeria and in West African sub regions.
Odusile noted that the Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ was not unaware of both international and local politics and conspiracy against the survival of the steel plant, calling on the government to as matter of urgency to swing to action with political will to completing the complex for benefit of generations yet unborn.
Earlier in his address,the Sole Administrator of Ajaokuta Steel Company , Engineer Isah Joseph Onobere stated that if the plant is allowed to die as being speculated by the enemies of progress the generation yet unborn will not forgive the leaders.
He stated that over $4.6 billion dollars has been expanded on the plant, stressing that by 1980, it was 84 percent completion and between 1980 and 1994 it has reached advance stage of 98 percent before the TPE left.
Onobere pointed out that as at 1994 a total of 40 out of. 43 plants were ready completed, noting that everything is serviceable condition till date.
This, he stated that will require a sum of S400 million to complete the plant.
He said that it was the patriotism and determination of workers that is still sustaining the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, adding that despite non payment of salary the staff were committed towards sustenance of the complex and equipment.
It would be recalled that Ajaokuta Steel plant was conceived under the administration of the former president Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari between 1979- 1983 and the successive administration had not been able to do anything.
Ironically no way forward is yet to be decided as it is now, may be the federal government ‘re direct some of the recovered stolen funds to complete Ajaokuta steel! plant.