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FG to raise N35b for resuscitating Ajaokuta light steel

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The Federal Government is to raise about N35 billion for the Ajaokuta Light Steel mill through the local financial market.

Shuaibu Audu, Minister of Steel Development, disclosed this to State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Bola Tinubu on Thursday in Abuja.

He said that the mill would produce iron rods to be used in the road construction programme of the administration aimed at creating thousands of jobs in the country.

“The Minister of Works, Sen. David Umahi, has already written a letter through his ministry, guaranteeing that there will be off takers in the iron rods that are being produced.

“Basically, the precedent is on the Renewed Hope Agenda which the Minister of Works is driving plans to construct about 30,000 kilometres of roads across Nigeria, where they will need about 7 million metric tonnes of iron rods.

“We can produce about 400,000 tonnes of those iron rods in Ajaokuta if we’re able to restart the steel plant. Mr President gave approval for us to raise money locally,” he said.

Mr Audu said that talks were in top gear with the local financiers, adding that it would be finalised in a number of weeks “so as to hit the ground running”.

The minister said that there was also a joint meeting with the Minister of Defence, Muhammed Badaru, with the President on the issue of the Ajaokuta Steel plant.

He said that this was in respect of the building of a military hardware, explaining that a Chinese firm has shown strong commitment towards the project.

“We’re setting up a military hardware capability in our Ajaokuta Steel plant, and based on that the Chinese people would help us to build that military hardware capabilities in one of the production units.”

Mr Audu said that the entire resuscitation of the steel plant would cost between two billion dollars to five billion dollars.

The minister added that discussion was also done about commitment of a Chinese company during the G20 summit in India to invest five billion dollars in the Steel sector of the economy.

“We’re currently looking for a land that is close to gas station that has a port and that is close to the natural or mineral resources that they will invest in. Either they set up a greenfield or they acquire an existing plan such as the Delta Steel plan.”

He said that the President has approved the setting up of a ministerial committee to oversee the realisation of this investment in the country.

Mr Audu said that the committee would comprise of some critical stakeholders within the government including the Ministers of Finance, Trade and Investments, Defence, Solid Minerals as well as Steel Development.

He added that this new investment was expected to create about 500,000 direct and indirect jobs.

On recent media reports on the cutting off of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant from the national grid, Audu said that the Federal Government would ensure that the issues was quickly resolved.

“So, part of what we plan to do is to sit down on the table in the next few days, as quickly as possible to be able to come up with a plan so that they can put it back on the grid.

“Putting things back in order is a gradual process. Ajaokuta cannot be revived overnight. This is a plant that has not been working for 45 years. Its a difficult task to try and get it back on track.

“We need the support of everyone including the electricity company to be able to help us to get this project back on track so that we can create the 1000s of jobs that we want for Nigerians,” he said.

NAN

 

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