Says Ajaokuta Steel Complex not obsolete
NMDC remains catalyst for Nigeria’s industrialization
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The mantra of the Buhari-led administration in 2015 was ‘change and diversification’ of the economy, the Director General of Nigeria Metallurgical Development Center, NMDC, Engr Linus Asuquo, weekend, said, diversification cannot be achieved with poor funding in research.
Speaking during a media interaction about the strategic place the NMDC occupies as catalyst in the solid minerals sector of the economy, Asuquo said the nation’s solid minerals sector is hugely endowed with over 44 minerals in 500 locations, and they stand Nigeria out in the comity of nations.
He said: “If we have adequate funding and pay attention to what we are doing, giving priority, we should be expecting development in the country.
“There are lot of challenges because research and development is very capital intensive in any country.
“The whole world is putting attention and resources in research and development. Governments are budgeting between three and four per cent of Gross Domestic Product, GDP, for research and development.
“I want to thank Mr President, recently, we increased from 0.1 to 0.5 but that is still very inadequate if we are to go forward in this country with research and development.
“That is where our priority should be if we really want to develop as a country.
“If we want to diversify our economy we cannot diversify without meaningful research and development, and a lot of research have to be done for us to move forward.”
However, he dismissed claims of some Nigerians saying equipment at the multi-billion Dollar Ajaokuta Steel Company are now outdated technology.
“I have said many times, we should not play with Ajaokuta Steel Company because a lot of politics have been played on this over the years.
“The quantum of metals imported into this country and we are spending billions of Naira to import metals into this country.
“Now consider the railways we are constructing if we have Ajaokuta Steel Company working I don’t think we should be importing all these metals; we would have preserved our economy and created jobs with our steel, skill acquisition and the benefits would been enormous.
“And if we are just doing research and development without Ajaokuta Steel Company working then we are just playing lip-service.
“There must be a political will to say this is our priority. Now politicians are talking about Ajaokuta Steel Company but after that that will be all.
“People who say Ajaokuta Steel Company is obsolete are not informed. Russia and India cannot do without a blast furnace.
“I was in India in 2000, India was producing 100 million tonnes of steel, and which method were they using and still using? People just sit down and criticize and say it is outdated. What methods can you use to produce iron and steel except the blast furnace.
“A lot of people are saying they no longer use coal, Russia is using coal including China.
“Any person have seen the money spent on Ajaokuta Steel Company, to scrape that place will be a collosal waste and suicidal.
“Even if it is outdated you can modernize it into sections; from the blast furnace, steel production, produce pellets then to rods, power generation to many States”, he pointed.
According to him, inadequate funding has made research institutes handicapped and performing below expectations compared to their counterparts abroad.
He said the NMDC is a citadel of industrialization if its potential are adequately activated there would be no need for any form of importation of iron and steel products including for the nation’s military sector.