- The administration of President Bola Tinubu has kicked off plans to rehabilitate Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited at a cost of over $1.5 billion
- Foreign investors from Russia, the United States, Arab nations, and China have expressed interest
- Ajaokuta Steel was conceived in 1958 to meet Nigeria’s steel demand and launch Nigeria’s and West Africa’s manufacturing sector
The Federal government is ready to rehabilitate the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCOL) in Kogi state in the next three years.
Sumaila Abdul-Akaba, the sole administrator of the steel company, revealed that to achieve this, it will cost the government another $1.5 billion.
An article from the Conversation revealed that Nigeria has pumped more than $8 billion into Ajaokuta Steel Company but has yet to produce one tonne of steel in 40 years.
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Abdul-Akaba assured that bringing the plant into production is possible despite previous unsuccessful attempts.
“Previously we were looking at $1 billion to $1.5 billion for the resuscitation of the project, but we want to reevaluate the project. There is going to be reevaluation, auditing and more people are coming to ensure we get the best of all these.
“Unlike the thinking of so many people, Ajaokuta is not obsolete but only requires the right attention to get the multi-billion dollar running again.”
More promises from Tinubu government
Also Speaking, Shuaibu Abubakar Audu, minister of Steel Development, revealed that his team has a three-year plan to resuscitate the company.
He added that when the company is ready, it will create over 500,000 jobs for Nigerians.
The minister said:
"We would like to express our gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his visionary initiative in establishing a Steel Development Ministry.
"Over the last four decades, Nigeria has possessed the largest Steel Plant in the country, and one of the largest in West Africa, which unfortunately has remained non-operational. However, the President recognizes that in order to industrialize Nigeria, it is imperative that we rejuvenate the steel industry.
"To achieve this goal, we have compiled two essential documents: a three-year plan for the revival of Ajaokuta Steel Company, accompanied by a short to medium-term plan.
"One of the key components of our strategy is the roadmap to designate the 24,000-hectare land of Ajaokuta as an Industrial Park, and to establish a Free Trade Zone to further attract Foreign Direct Investment.
"My responsibility is to diligently address the persistent issues that have hindered the plant's production. If, during the first term of this administration, we can successfully produce even a small quantity of steel, it would mark a significant achievement."
Audu further disclosed that he was on tour with potential foreign investors and experts interested in bringing FDI to unlock the sector’s potential.
“We have the Russians, Americans, Arabs and Chinese who are showing interest. They have come to show their desire to carry out an advanced technical audit to see what needs to be completed.
“After my findings from here, we will forward everything to Mr President for his approval."
He also hinted at a five-year plan which would ensure the production of steel in other parts of the country.
Analysts who spoke to Legit.ng are not entirely excited about the project and will prefer a different approach from the federal government.
Johnson Kalu, a Lagos-based analyst, expressed doubts to Legit.ng about the government's plan.
According to him, this is not the first time the government has come out with big promises and no results.
"It has been over 40 years since the government started trying and making promises about the revival of Ajaokuta Steel.
"At one point, during the tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari, it was claimed that the plant was 90% ready.
"Now, we are about to commit over $1.5 billion. Where is the accountability for what has been spent in the past before embarking on another potentially fruitless journey? I believe the government should consider completely selling it to a private company and cutting its losses."
FG asks Nigerians to save money through bonds
Meanwhile, in another development, the Federal government is inviting Nigerians to invest in two of its October bonds and has offered up to 12% interest rate.
The offer is open to every Nigerian, and the repayment dates have been set for 2026.
The administration of President Tinubu will use the bonds to fulfil some of its pressing needs while helping Nigerians to save and earn.