Dear Honourable Colleagues, as part of our Legislative Agenda, we committed ourselves to Sectoral Debates on major sectors of our economy, with a view to interacting with senior members of the Executive branch to help proffer legislative and policy solutions to existing national challenges. To this end, we have so far undertaken several sessions in the past which featured a number of Honourable Ministers.
On 12th February, 2018, I visited the Ajaokuta Steel Complex in company of members of the House Committee on Steel. I dare say that the visit was an eye opener. The plant has an installed capacity of 1.3 million tons P/A with provision to increase capacity to 2.6 million tons and further to 5.2 million tons P/A. The first phase of the complex is 98% completed with 40 of the 43 units already installed.
An investment of over $5.1 billion has gone into the complex. The complex has a completed internal standard gauge rail track of approximately 68kms. Out of 10,000 housing units targeted in the first phase, about 3,500 units are completed and have been occupied since the 1980s, while the rest were abandoned at various stages of completion. The complex has two power plants with total installed capacity of 110MW of electricity which is more than enough to power the entire complex, the whole of Kogi and Edo States. The complex boasts of first class internal road networks. It is also linked to Warri by Standard gauge rail line and gas pipeline.
When completed, the Ajaokuta Steel plant has capacity to generate about $1.7 billion P/A, employ over 10,000 Engineers and technicians; employ over 10,000 other personnel; lead to the creation of over 2 million indirect jobs; increase Nigeria’s export earnings by over 1 billion USD P/A and save over $15 billion USD worth of steel products imported into Nigeria annually if statistics from the NBS is anything to go by. Additionally, the plant will produce millions of metric tons of cement and fertilizer P/A.
I want you to imagine what would be the outcome today if we had completed this plant 34 years ago as originally planned. Also imagine if there is any nation on this earth that will sink more than $5.1billion of its hard earned money on any project and walk away from it when it is 98% completed. Could this be national sabotage or have we been bewitched by some powerful sorcerers? Just imagine how much it will cost if we were to undertake such a project afresh, either now or in the foreseeable future.
To our collective shame, the present state of Ajaokuta steel complex is more of an expressive metaphor of our ineptitude and bad governance over the years.
We have been told that Government does not have the funds to complete the remaining 2% of the plant. Nothing can be further from this position as Government does not need liquid cash to complete the plant and put it to work. All Government needs to complete the plant is, leadership. Of course there is no leadership without ideas. Money in turn is the fruit of ideas. In other words, poverty is not lack of money but lack of productive ideas. That is why we have invited key Government officials and experts to help us generate the right ideas that will produce the money to be deployed to complete this plant and end this national embarrassment. If we do this, we will be accelerating our nation’s journey into the future and into the club of comity of industrialised nations. This is the rationale of today’s Sectoral Debate on the Steel Sector.
Let me now yield the floor to the experts to advise us on the way forward. I wish us all an informed and fruitful deliberations.