Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has said that the revitalisation of the Aluminium Smelting Company of Nigeria, ALSCON, in Ikot-Abasi, Akwa Ibom State, was crucial to the diversification plan of the Federal Government.
Dr Fayemi disclosed this to newsmen shortly after taking a tour of facilities in the plant reputed to be the biggest in Africa, adding that revitalising the plant would help the government’s import substitution strategy.
Fayemi, who undertook the tour of the various plants and the harbour in the complex with the Minister of State, Abubakar Bwari, lamented that the huge national asset was left to rot, despite its potential to help boost the economy and create employment opportunities.
The Minister, who was conducted round the complex by the Managing Director of RUSAL-ALSCON, Mr Dmitriy Zaviyalov, lauded the Russian company managing the complex for ensuring that the machines were kept in good shape despite the absence of production activities, occasioned by a legal tussle over ownership.
He said that government could not do anything about the legal tussle other than to encourage the Supreme Court to expedite action on the ruling which would free the complex of encumbrances.
He said that government was fully prepared to tackle other administrative issues that might have crippled production processes at the plant once the legal aspect had been resolved.
Specifically, he said the ministry was ready to assist the company in resolving all administrative issues it might have with some organisations including the Nigeria Export processing Authority, NEPZA, the Nigerian Gas Company and the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE , in the bid to ensure that the plant comes alive again.
The Minister said that contrary to reports that RUSAL was involved in asset stripping, the fact on ground showed that the Russian group had maintained the plants as well as a small work force, since it has stopped work.
He said that the power plant in the complex has the capacity to generate 540 mega watt, while all that the plant need to function was about 350 mega watt, thereby leaving it with an excess of about 200 mega watt, which can be fed into the national grid.
The Minister said: “This is a government that believes in the rule of law, so we cannot influence the judiciary over the matter. But we will help to resolve all other administrative issues that may arise between the company and other organisations in the interest of our economy.”