From Ibrahim Obansa, Lokoja
The Sole Administrator of Ajaokuta Steel complex, Engr. Ismaila Abdul – Akaba has identified inadequate funding by previous administrations as one of the greatest problems militating against the early completion of the project.
Addressing journalists at the Steel complex, he noted that the lukewarm attitude of past governments towards the project were indeed traceable to undue pressure arising from local, national and international politics in steel production.
He however stressed that the situation in the Nigerian steel sector requires a radical intervention of the government owing to the strategic role played by Steel in nation building.
On the state of the plant due to long years of abandonment, the Sole Administrator, said that the good news was that the rugged nature of the Russian design has ensured that the Steel Plant facilities have remained in serviceable conditions despite long years of installations.
He added that most of the 41 plant units had been completed by 1996 when the original designers of the plant: TPE of the then USSR left site.
According to him, the outstanding construction and erection workers were in few areas of the primary units,
“Indeed many of the plant units were even commissioned and put into operation. Examples of such units are : the 110 MW captive power plant, the light section and wire Rod Million, the water and gas facilities Engineering Workshops and the Metallurgical Training Centre. He said
Speaking also, the National President of the Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, (ISSSAN), Comrade Bello Itopa, described Ajaokuta Steel complex as a strategic industry and a foreign exchange earner with a foresight on industrialization and diversification of the Nigeria economy.
While kicking against the privatisation of the company, the union leader suggested that the project should be completed and commissioned, following the expiration of the performance guarantee test period and successful operation before going into any form of privatisation or commercialization.