By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Federal Government, Monday, disclosed moves to assist operators in the metallurgical industry to reduce the impact of Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, on their business.
This was made known in a statement signed by the Assistant Director, Information, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, MMSD, Timothy Akpoili, where the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Edet Akpan, who has represented Director, Special Duties, MMSD, Olayinwole Adebayo, at the 2nd Nigeria Metallurgical Industry Stakeholders’ Forum (MISF) organized by Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, for operators in the industry in North-East geopolitical zone in Bauchi, Bauchi State on August 18 – 19, 2020.
Akpan said the government under President Buhari organised the forum with foresight as far as the post-COVID-19 strategic plan for economic recovery is concerned.
He also expressed optimism that the essence of the forum will create a robust platform where value contributions made will propel the metallurgical industry to an enviable height that will fast-track industrialization of the economy, particularly during the post-COVID-19 period.
According to him the Ministry has articulated strategies and activities for the development of the metallurgical sector with a view to taking it to where it should be, including repressing the Nigerian Metallurgical Industry Bill for passing and assent; liaising with Nigeria Custom and Service towards curbing incessant dumping of substandard steel and other metal products in Nigeria; as well as the export of banned scrap metals; and building confidence with private Metallurgical plants operators in the country, among others.
He said: “There is no gainsaying the fact that the steel and other metals development have unarguably remained the bedrock of industrialisation, sustainable growth, and development of nations, hence the present administration of President Muhammudu Buhari is poised now than ever to create enabling environment for metallurgical operators and all other allied metal outfits in the sector towards generating employment, creating wealth and reducing poverty.”
Also speaking was the Special Adviser to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Sunny Ekozin, who said the Ministry is fortunate to have patriots in its leadership, which our Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch Olamilekan Adegbite and the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, describing them as passionate and committed who have put in the effort to reposition and revive the minerals and metals sector.
According to Ekozin the Ministers are working assiduously by putting in place strategies to develop the entire gamut of the sector, both upstream and downstream.
He also disclosed that the Ministers are working hard to ensure the Nigerian Metallurgical Industry Bill is passed into law to boost productivity in the sector, which also a policy document on the entire downstream value addition is being prepared to be presented to the Federal Executive Council.
He, therefore, urged operators in the industry, especially those in the North East, to partner with the Ministry and support efforts of government, saying that in the next two years the sector will turn around for the better.
Also in a goodwill message, the Executive Secretary, African Iron and Steel Association, ASIA, Dr. Sanusi Mohammed, described the effort of the Buhari-led administration to reposition the metallurgical sector as a step in the right direction while pointing at the Government- to- Government arrangement with Russia to complete the Ajaokuta Steel Company, saying that if completely carried out will give impetus to metal industries in the country.
Participants at the Forum commended the government’s effort in reviving the minerals and metals sector of the economy saying that it is the pathway to the industrial development of the country.