Messrs.Â Asobele & Agunsoye,
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.Â Â Ajaokuta was created to inwardly access Technology Transfer.Â Â
OurÂ prayers to govt
There is a felt need to complete the external infrastructure and all associated mines should be developed.Â A.External Infrastructures include among others
(i)Â Â Rail road network to Otukpo, Eganyi, Kabba, Okene, Jakura, Obajana, Abuja.
(ii)Â Â Â Â Osara, Oza-Nagogo-Osara, Dolomite deposite.
(iii) Access Road to Burum, Ikpeshin Dolomite deposite $880 million
B.Internal Infrastructure will include
Housing Units, Rail rolling at MSSM, Township Power-supply, Central Seawage System, Communication and electron surveillance gadgets.Â Â Â All these will gulp a wooping sum of $600 million for completion.
C. (i)Â Commissioning of the Blast Furnance and steel making shop of Ajaokuta by December 2010.
(ii) Completion of Concentrate and Super concentrate line of NIOMCO Itakpeby mid -2010.
(iiiÂ Messr TPE and KOCH (USSR) be invited to undertake technical audit and partake in the final phase of Ajaokuta, making it a commercially viable complex and enterprise.
Staff salary and remuneration should not be glossed over. Patriotic workers who have kept vigil against vandalization of important components of the Complex are gallant heroes of our industrial and economic emancipation.Â Â Â Â TheyÂ Â mustÂ Â notÂ Â beÂ Â compensatedÂ Â withÂ Â Retrenchment, Retirement or lay off. Government should fund N6 billion for this purpose,
(iv) In a globalising world of which Nigeria is a powerful player, it is important to note that Great Britain injected -700 million into its steel sector and USA injected several billion dollars into its own Steel sector with a Legislation from the Bush administration to protect USA Steel sector. Why not the Nigerian Government take its cue from these two titans of steel.
After all, employment generation will help put a stop to the agitation of jobless restive youths of Nigeria. So Government must complete Ajaokuta for peace and stability in the Nation. The example of hostage taking in the Niger Delta is an eye-opener.
(vi) Government may even consider creating a Ministry of Ajaokuta Steel in direct tendum to the creation of Niger-Delta Ministry, or make Iron and Steel to come under the direct supervision of Mr. President as President Shagari did in the 1980s.
(vii) Government should step up its bid for the production of fluid steel in Ajaokuta. In addition there is a felt-need to jump start the completed Units of the plant to generate revenue. This will cost N500 million for Ajaokuta and N600 million for NIOMCO. World top 20 countries are self-sufficient in steel production.
Nigeria Vision 20-2020 oblige, there is need for NigeriaÂ to brace up to join the 20 top Iron and Steel producing countries of the world. There is therefore no need to privatise. No buyer in the face of the global economic melt-down can raise such a huge fund to buy these plants. Completion of the Complex before Privatisation will allow Government to recoup its investment.
(viii) And finally, it bears repeating: No retrenchment of ourÂ skilled workers who have kept hope alive in Ajaokuta for the past 26 years. They are Patriots. They are skilled. They are experienced and in-replaceable. To lay them off and search for new hand to be retained will jeopardise the smooth running of the plant.
Messrs.Â Asobele & Agunsoye, lecturers, writes from University of Lagos.