By Timothy Asobele & Olumuyiwa Agunsoye
KAINJIÂ Power Station has to be enlarged as soon as possible to generate more horsepower to the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex. If more Hydro Electric Power Stations are built on the River Niger, it will encourage industrial expansion in Nigeria in general and Kogi, Kwara, Benue, Niger States in particular.
Kogi cities and economic prosperity
The natural wealth of the Ajaokuta Complex limithroph cities andÂ its projected prosperity that can be before Kabba, Okene, Lokoja, Idah, Olle etc are pulp and paper production, saw mills, pulp works, paper mills from the Vast Woodland of Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area, Cement manufacture at the Bunu-Oworo Limestone deposits, the production of metal goods like steel, motor cars, general machinery, chemicals, which are by-products of Obajana Cement factory and Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex, furniture, withÂ the development of an excellent transport and telecommunica-tion, that is rail and road transport, establishment of big finance houses.
Mixed farming and dairying in the Kabba-BunuÂ rich productive soil will flourish to supply food to factory workers. Fruits, apples, truck crops, such as potatoes, carrots, as- paragus, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce for Nigerian urban market. Cattle and pig, fish ponds and the development of Truck-farms because of the existence of large, nearby markets and close network of roads andÂ railways as suggested above.
Truck Farming and Manufacturing in Kogi state
TheÂ truck-farming farms canÂ make both fruit and vegetables, make biscuits and breakfast foods and produce footwear, farm implements, and radio sets. Motor car tyres, agriculture machinery, soap and detergents, drugs, synthetic rubber and plastic. Lokoja Wharf can start â€œlakerâ€ type ships and boat- building, locomotives and aluminium manufacture in Kabba to be exported to South West buyers. Furniture and paper and chemicals at Olle in Kabba-Bunu Local Governments. The Itape Iron Ore will keep the Ebira busy and prosperous.
The large deposit of Coal at Okaba will favour more thermal-electric stations in Kogi State. Kogi State will gradually pass as the seat of farm tractors, and textile machinery to feed the vast Kaduna, Kano, and Ikeja textile manufacturing towns, Motor-vehicleÂ manufacture, chemicals, rubber goods, electrical/apparatus, cannedÂ goods as well as pottery.
Hydro-Electric Power and Saw- Milling prospection
Forest occupations have not thrived as it should have been inspite of the large forest and wooded land in West Kogi. In Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area in which exists large expanse ofÂ forest land, little timber is cut for local demands: for fencingÂ pole and house roof beam construction. Their importance in electric Poles, telegraph pole and pulp mills are not yet exploited.
The availability of hydroelectrical stations as suggested above will lead to the proliferation of Saw mills in the wooded and forest land of Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area. The present output of sawn timber is negligeable, but when fully exploited it will lead KogiÂ State to prosperity.
ForÂ the real wealth of the Kabba-Bunu forests lies in their pulpwood, of all description. Pulp-mills and Sawmills will certainly give rise to more settlements in this sparely populated Bunu district of Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area. Milling Centres for the time-being remains in Kabba, Olle.
When die milling-centres come on board reforestation and other conservation measures should be put in place like:
1. The issue of licences forÂ felling.
2. The restriction of cuttingÂ trees of a defined size.
3. The establishment of a Forest protection service designed to direct fire and insect-infection.
4.The setting apart of forest reserves, where neither trees nor animals can be interfered with.
The Bunu forests are potential sources of furs as well as wood. Rabbits, buffalo, deer, skins abound in Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area unexploited yet for local shoe, bag, belt, etc. manufacture or for export.
Management with Human Face: An Appeal to the Federal Government
We have, like the Patriotic workers of Ajaokuta and Itakpe Complex, done positive critical exploration of the great prosperity that Ajaokuta holds for the people of Nigeria.
We know that the Green Peace activists of the world mean well for the health hazards that Iron Ore and its allied industries: Iron and Steel manufacturing can constitute for the people of old Kabba province, now Kogi State. The Green peace organisations are agitating to keep world ecologicalÂ Â and environmental equilibrium in check, because climate change and the depletion of the Ozone layers can constitute a nuisance for atmosphericÂ peace and stability.
The Ajaokuta Iron and Steel workers have not had any cause to rise to the occasion and agitate for a clearer sky, cleaner air for the lungs of the workers. For this we give them kudo.
We believe government should look into the dual-mandate workers communiqueÂ to wit:
1.July-August 2008 Abuja meeting Communique.
2.November 2009 Lagos Meeting Communique, because of their importance in the light of the place of Iron and Steel in the economic and industrial take off of Nigeria.
It bears repeating. Ajaokuta was embarked upon as a strategic industry, a job creator and a foreign exchange SAVER and EARNER. Hence NIOMCO has 1,500 workers while Ajaokuta boasts of 15,000 workers.