By John Okeke
As the Federal government strives to diversify the economy through Mining and Steel Sector, the revitalization of Ajeokuta Steel Company to produce optimally is of utmost concern to the present administration, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite stressed this when he received the Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Alexey Shebarshir in his office.
The minister pointed out that Federal Government did not deliberately abandon the company but owing to some legal encumbrances, the company has not been producing optimally. He said that the government has been expending huge amount of money to ensure that the assets at the company are not vandalized.
Adegbite informed the Russian Ambassador that the Federal Government is working round the clock to ensure that some sections of the company will start production before the end of the year. He assured his guest of the government’s readiness to welcome any collaboration aimed at revitalising the steel industry to operate in full capacity. The minister said that plan are on ground to engage relevant companies on meaningful discussions with a view to employ strategic approaches on the best ways to reinvigorate Ajeokuta Steel into full production so as a achieve the vision of making it the hub of industrialization not only to Nigeria but Africa at large.
The Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, Alexey Shebarshir, speaking earlier, said that his country is ready to partner with Nigeria in resuscitating Ajeokuta Steel Company especially in the areas of rebuilding infrastructure and overhauling of the plant. He emphasised on the need for the Federal Government to protect the private investors who are interested in turning around the company for maximum production.
While commenting on the partnership, the Russian Deputy Head of Mission, Trade and Economic Affairs, Valery Shaposhnikov, said that they have carried out on the spot analysis of the challenges militating against smooth operation of the company.
He called for more engagement between government and stakeholders in the industry so as the to be better informed and fashion out the best ways to tackle the issues hindering the operations of the company.
Shaposhnikov reiterated his country’s readiness from the inception of the company to harness the potential of Steel in providing the necessary equipment for the industrialization of the country