President Bola Tinubu declared on Sunday that with the hitherto abandoned Ajaokuta Steel Complex now nearing completion, the project will have the capacity to employ 500,000 Nigerians once designated as a free trade zone.
The steel complex which was initiated by the administration of former President Shehu Shagari, in 1979.
The complex is regarded as the biggest of its kind in Nigeria and is located on a 24,000 hectares (59,000 acres)
The coke oven and by-products plant are larger than all the refineries in Nigeria combined.
Tinubu, who Vice President Kashim Shettima represented at the flag-off of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship campaign in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, promised to fully harness the potentials of the Complex once it is completed.
The integrated steel plant was at inception designed to produce 1.3 million tonnes of liquid steel per annum in the first phase, 2.6 million tonnes of liquid steel per annum in the second phase and 5.2 million tonnes of liquid steel per annum in the final stage.
Former President Mohammadu Buhari, in December, 2022, estimated that the complex will not only generate about 500,000 jobs but will raise an additional $1.6b in revenue to the federal government annually, when completed.
The plant will, amongst others, help to boost Nigeria’s foreign direct investment and provide an avenue for the creation of the much-needed conducive business environment for all sectors to thrive.
The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), is also targeting to retain it’s hold at the State governorship poll in the state slated for November 11.
Addressing party supporters in Lokoja, Shettima also noted that Tinubu remained committed to completing the constructions of the River Niger, the Kabba-Lokoja and the Abuja-Lokoja roads.
Shettima maintained that President Tinubu is a man of plenty of ideas who is determined to reposition the nation in its rightful place, especially as it borders on restructuring and stimulating the Nigerian economy.
“Given Mr President’s commitment to the development of Kogi State and indeed the entirety of Nigeria, Kogi in particular, being a confluence state, cannot afford to have a governor who is hostile to the center. We must be partners in progress and work hand in hand to develop this great nation,”
He further hinted about plans by the Tinubu administration to make the Itakpe crop processing project a dream come true, just as he promised jobs and affordable education under the present government.
He also assured that the welfare of the citizenry would never be compromised, even as he called on Kogi citizens to come out en masse on November 11 to vote for the candidate of the APC, Ahmed Usman Ododo, in order to consolidate on the achievements of the APC government in the state.
He added that the natural endowments of Kogi State would be harnessed for the development of the state and the nation at large, adding that President Tinubu had further given his nod for the rehabilitation of Obajana-Okene road in Kogi State.
The Vice President had earlier met with traditional rulers and other stakeholders of the state ahead of the November 11 governorship election, where he solicited support for the APC candidate in the forthcoming election.
Mathew Ipaluwa, the Attah of Igala, while rponding on behalf of his colleagues, pledged their support for President Bola Tinubu.
The royal father commended the state governor, Yahaya Bello, for working hard in addressing security challenges in the state.
Yahaya Bello, the outgoing Kogi State Governor, while welcoming the delegation, thanked President Tinubu for accepting to flag off the governorship campaign in his state, disclosing that his administration has achieved a lot, and it is time for consolidation in order to move the state forward.
“We have done a lot in the area of security, education and health, among others. We want to consolidate on that. I am, therefore, calling on the people of our dear state to vote for our candidate in order to move Kogi State forward,” he said.
Abdullahi Ganduje, the party’s National Chairman assured that the party will retain power in Kogi on the backdrop of Yahaya Bello’ s performance
He noted that the people of Kogi cannot afford to be left behind by giving power to another party different from the one at the center.
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, who is the Chairman of the Kogi Election Campaign Council, enjoined the people of Kogi State to clean up their voter cards and turn out in numbers to vote for the candidate of the APC in the November 11 governorship election.
Ahmed Ododo, the Kogi State APC governorship candidate, also pledged to carry the people of the state along if elected, saying he remained committed to the development agenda of Kogi State.
“We will build on the legacies of my mentor, Governor Yahaya Bello. We will give attention to security, education, agriculture and health. Our women will also be empowered,” he said.
Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, Governor; Shuaibu Audu, Minister of Steel Development, and members of the National Working Committee of the APC, among others were amongst other dignitaries