The clamour for the revitalization of the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Mill may be in vain going by revelations from the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines and Steel, Senator Tanko Almakura (Nasarawa South).
The Senator raised the alarm following observations by stakeholders that the project which has been ongoing for 40 years would need N3billion for the reactivation of 21 plants next year.
Thé multi-billion naira edifice will also not be able to pay staff their January salaries as the World Bank responsible for that had informed the country that it is pulling out of the gesture from January 2021.
The Senator, who made the revelation to journalists in Abuja on Saturday , said the N3billion required to engage experts from Russia for the reactivation of the 21 plants in the Iron and Steel Complex is not included in the 2021 budget for the Ministry Mines , Steel and Solid Minerals .
Almakura said he had made 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 than 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 N3billion.
“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 for 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 required catalyst for diversification of the Nation’s economy which is one of the key policies of President Muhammadu 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 about whether the N3billion will be appropriated as an additional fund 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.