The Federal government has vowed to revamp Ajaokuta to produce steel, reiterating its commitment to encourage local investors in mine and steel sector to provide more job opportunities for Nigerian youths.
Olamilekan Adegbite, minister for Mines and Steel, stated this yesterday during official visit to Kamwire Industries Limited, a local steel manufacturing company in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Adegbite disclosed that government would consider total ban on steel importation to encourage local steel manufacturers.
He said government was determined to stop importation of substandard steel products into Nigeria.
“The Nigerian steel industry in Ajaokuta has become very emotional to the whole country. By the grace of God, with the President backing, we will deliver Ajaokuta. Ajaokuta will produce steel,” he said.
“First, we are working with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to address the issue of fake products. The ministry is not in control of the quality of steel products that come into the country, though we are responsible for steel production.
“We’ll work with the standards agency to control what comes in. The ultimate aim is to ban steel importation totally. But before we do that, we will ensure we are able to satisfy local consumption from local production and still have excess to export. That’s where we’re heading,” the minister explained.
Adegbite had while commending the effort of Kamwire Industry based on what he saw, noted that “We welcome local industrialisation and local entrepreneurs.
“We want to encourage them. I can see the depth of backward integration here from raw material to finished product. This is an example of what Nigeria should do.
“If you do this, you can imagine this complex providing over 4,000 employment opportunities. If we have replication of this all over the country, it will reduce rate of restiveness and banditry we have in the country”.
The minister, who expressed the determination of the Federal Government to effectively harness the mining sector, said local investors are better than foreign investors, because the former would engage the local people and would not take their profit out of the state.
In her submission, Bolanle Iyaduni Yusuf, vice chairperson of Kamwire Holding, called for continuous advocacy for diversification of the economy, most importantly in favour of steel sector, stressing the need to guard against economic saboteurs who, she said, had held the country to ransom through smuggling and illegal importation of galvanised, aluminium and corrugated roofing sheets into Nigeria.
She also stressed the need for more attention in the iron and steel sector to become a national product for diverse economic benefits due to the numerous opportunities such as job creation, revenue generation and improved social welfare of the people.
“Despite the recent closure of land borders, seaports are still porous and at the moment, Nigeria market is flooded with substandard roofing sheets, a sad scenario which calls for urgent national debate,” she said.
According to her, conspiracy and sharp practices among law enforcement agencies and importers are out rightly negating the Federal Government’s drive against criminality among Nigerians.
“The goal in the iron and steel sector’s roadmap is that it would contribute about 10 percent to our national GDP by 2025 and help diversify the nation’s economy.
“In order to realise this dream, there is an urgent need for Your Excellency to engage the authority of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS) to work closely with us in this regard,” she further said.
SIKIRAT SHEHU, Ilorin