The Federal Government intends to begin producing military hardware at Ajaokuta Steel Mill, according to a statement made on Monday by Prince Shuaibu Audu, Minister of Steel Development.
The minister stated that in order to bring the long-abandoned steel plant back online and begin producing iron rods and military hardware, he has been closely collaborating with his colleagues in the Ministries of Works and Defence.
“In addition to restarting light steel mill, we want to produce military hardware in Ajaokuta Steel,” Audu said on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“I have been working very closely with Minister of Defence Alhaji Badaru and Minister of Works Senator Umahi to work hand in hand to produce iron rod in Ajaokuta and to produce military hardware capabilities in Ajaokuta.
“Whether it is helmets, whether it is bullets, whether it is vests, whether it is pads for tanks of all shapes and all of those things or rifles ammunitions, we will be able to have the capacity to be able to do that.”
The vast Ajaokuta Steel Mill project, which was started more than 40 years ago, has not taken off as planned due to mismanagement by several governments.
The minister did, however, assert that the current administration is dedicated to revitalizing the steel complex’s light steel mill in order to manufacture iron rods.
He claims that professional estimates place the cost of renovating the entire complex between two and five billion dollars, with the light steel mill component coming in at approximately N35 billion.
The minister also said that he had received permission from President Bola Tinubu to generate funds locally in order to revitalize the steel plant’s light steel mill division.
He stated that the N35 billion investments on the steel plant will help it produce 50,000 tons of iron rods with the capacity to go up to 400,000 tons.
Absence Of Political Will
Audu identified lack of political will as one of the major reasons why the Ajaokuta Steel Mill has not functioned for over 40 years.
“I think part of the issue is that there has been no political will. This is the first time in our 63-year history since independence that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has created a Steel Ministry.
“He understands the industrial revolution will hinge on the Ministry of Steel. There were some concessions done in the past where concessionaires brought in didn’t have the skills required to be able to carry out the job, so those were some of the challenges,” he said.
The minister also disclosed that the last concession that was done with Global Steel was terminated, with the Nigerian government having to pay about $496 million for terminating the concession agreement with the Indian company.