From Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
The Federal Government said it would sign the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Russian Federation preparatory to the resuscitation of the multi-billion naira Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill, in Kogi State in January 2020.
The Minister of Mines and Steel, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite disclosed this while declaring open the 2nd Nigerian Metallurgical Industry Stakeholders Forum in the Northwest zone held in Kaduna yesterday.
According to him, the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and other allied companies were a done deal, saying that the metal and steel sector remained the bedrock of the development of any nation.
He added that President Muhammadu Buhari was committed in the repositioning of the metal and steel sector.
The Forum had as its theme: “ Repositioning the Nigerian Metal Sector, For National Development and Economic Diversification.”
Olamilekan said the repositioning of the metal sector was for the overall economic development of the country, saying that no nation in the world survived by neglecting its metal sector.
The Minister said, “It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to the fifth phase of the second edition of the Nigeria Metallurgical Industry Stakeholders’ Forum (MISF). It is an engagement with metal operators in the South-East Geopolitical zone of the Country.
“The first, second, third and fourth phases were held at Asaba, Delta State; Oshodi, Lagos State, Jos, Plateau State and recently in Owerri, Imo State respectfully.
“The Forum is timely considering the Federal Government’s current quest to diversify our mono-product economy by de-emphasizing dependence on oil and gas while focusing more on the non-oil sectors especially the agricultural, minerals and metals sectors.”
Olamilekan noted that the theme of this Forum ‘‘Repositioning the Nigerian Metals Sector for National Development and Economic Diversification’’ was in tandem with the agenda, vision and mission of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Minister added that the steel and other metals development had remained the bedrock of industrialization for sustainable growth and development of any nation, Nigeria inclusive.
“Take a look around you, you would agree with me that virtually everything we use today either has components of metals or is produced using metallic equipment and Nigeria is well endowed with various mineral raw materials that cut across the length and breadth of the nation.
“Based on this undisputable fact, the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari is poised to regulate the metals sector of the economy in order to create enabling environment for Metallurgical Operators and all other allied metal outfits in the sector with a view to diversifying our economy, creating jobs and wealth for growth, development and National Prosperity,” he said.
The Minister then called on all stakeholders present at the Forum to share their experiences in the Metals Sector towards rebuilding the ailing Metallurgical Industry to “enable us utilize locally, the various mineral raw materials that Nigeria is endowed with for National Development and Economic Diversification.”
According to him, the ministry has developed a roadmap and also articulated some sustainable programs, strategies and activities for the development of the Metallurgical Sector with a view to taking it to the next level.
“These include: Developing a Roadmap for the development of Minerals and Metals industry;
Processing the Nigerian Metallurgical Industry Bill (NMIB) to the National Assembly; Collaboration with all relevant government agencies;
“Building confidence of private metallurgical plants operators in the country especially on areas where government could be of assistance in finding solutions to their challenges, Liaising/Partnering with Nigeria Customs Service towards curbing incessant dumping of substandard steel and other metal products in Nigeria as well as export of banned scrap metals.
“All these among others are the pragmatic steps being taken by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development towards repositioning the Metal Sector to attain its pride of place as the bedrock of industrialization and those who track the activities of the Ministry are already aware of these developments,” he said.