The multi-million dollars Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Project, which has been under construction for close to 40 years, may end up a mirage if N3billion is not provided for reactivation of the 21 plants next year , said the Chairman, Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines and Steel Development, Senator Tanko Almakura.
This is as he also lamented that staffers of the Iron and Steel Complex working in the Mining Cadastral Office , will not be getting their monthly salaries from January next year as the World Bank responsible for that had already informed the country that it is pulling out of the gesture from January 2021.
Senator Almakura, who made the lamentations to journalists in Abuja over the weekend, said the N3 billion required to use in facilitating the engagement of experts from Russia for reactivation of the 21 plants in the Iron and Steel Complex , is not included in the 2021 budget earmarked for the Ministry Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals.
He said he had made a presentation to that effect to the Senate Committee on Appropriation during presentation of the 2021 budget estimates of the Ministry to the committee on Thursday last week.
According to him , the remarks made by the Committee led by Senator Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North) for provision of the money in the final report on the 2021 budget, was not assuring enough .
“Nigeria has spent a lot on the Ajaokuta project to allow just N3billion to make her decades old efforts a mirage .
“Resuscitation of Ajaokuta is key to Industrialization and development of the country. The Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals Ministry appealed to us during budget defence, to effect Appropriation for the N3 billion.
“Since we cannot on our own as joint committees on Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals, increase the enveloped budget presented to us by the Ministry, we pushed the appeal to the Appropriation Committee for the required appropriation .
“The N3billion is very necessary to be provided in saving the Iron and Steel Project from total comatose”, he said.
He added that completion of the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Project, would serve as a required catalyst for diversification of the Nation’s economy which is one of the key policies of President Muhamnadu Buhari led government .
On staffers who may not be collecting their salaries from next year January, Senator Almakura explained that they are contract staff working at the Mining Cadastral office of the Complex and whose monthly salaries have been footed in the past years from interventions from the world Bank which had notified the country that it will stop that gesture after December this year.
When contacted on phone whether the N3 billion will be appropriated as additional funds for the Iron and Steel Company, Senator Barau was evasive.
He said though diversification of the nation’s economy is a necessity at this time but paucity of funds remains the stumbling block in acceding to such demands since the 2021 N13.08 trillion budget was projected on expected revenues and not monies already warehoused somewhere.