Ajaokuta Is 90 Percent Complete, May Be Functional Early 2023 – Minister

 

The Minister of Mines and Steel, Olamilekan Adegbite, on Monday, said the Ajeokuta Steel Mill is 90 percent complete and may be functional by early 2023. 

Adegbite made the remarks while making an appearance on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily.

The development of the steel mill was started in the 1970s but has evaded completion several decades after.

The Minister, on Monday, said the current revitalisation plan for the steel mill was kick-started in October 2019, when a Nigerian delegation, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, attended the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, Russia.

In Sochi, President Buhari invited the Russians to help complete the steel mill on a Build-Operate-Transfer model, Adegbite said.

The Russians agreed and were set to arrive in Nigeria in March 2020, with the project to last for about two years.

However, the coronavirus pandemic threw a spanner into the wheels as the countries closed their borders to halt the virus and the Russians were unable to fly into Nigeria for an on-site audit.

Adegbite said once international borders are open, the process will resume and Ajaokuta may become operation between late 2022 and early 2023.

 

What the Minister Said?

“I came into office last year and the process to actually kickstart Ajaokuta this time around started in October last year. I was privileged to be with Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari at the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia. And, of course, on the sidelines of that summit, we had a bilateral (agreement) with the Russian government).

“And one of the things President Buhari presented as our requests, was for the Russians to come and help to complete Ajaokuta on a build-operate-transfer basis, so Ajaokuta will not be a burden to government again. And, of course, it was accepted.

“Don’t forget that Ajaokuta itself was built by the Russians and Ukrainians under the Soviet Union. So we’ve gone back to the original builder and said, look there’s just a little bit to complete this – some will tell you it was 95 percent completed, 90 percent, depending on what sector you are looking at. But Ajaokuta is advanced. Overall, if you look at the whole complex, it’s about 90 percent completed.

Minister of Mines and Steel, Olamilekan Adegbite, made an appearance on Channels Television's Sunrise Daily on August 17, 2020.
Adegbite, made an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on August 17, 2020.

 

“So we said let the Russians come in, complete it, operate it for a while to recoup the money that’s going to be used to complete it and, of course make their profit, and transfer ownership back to Nigeria. That is the basis, on a government-to-government basis. And that was the proposal which we gave to the Russians and they accepted. And we are in that process.

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed things down. We would have moved further than we are now. The plan was for the Russians – after the exchange of some papers and of course a few meetings (we had a meeting in Cairo) – the Russians were supposed to come down sometime in March to do what you call evaluation; that’s the technical audit of the complex itself. They need to look at the machinery, the complex, everything and say, look for us to kickstart this thing and bring it to a working condition, it’s going to cost x amount. That’s what the technical audit is all about. After negotiation of that bill that will be submitted, then the Russians will move in.

“The audit itself was supposed to take three months. If they had come in March, perhaps we would have had the engineers working on-site by now. Unfortunately because of the pandemic, this is August, they are yet to come for the audit. The audit has to be done physically.

“So we are looking at – as soon as the international border restrictions are lifted, they will come in and do the audit.

“The whole thing was supposed to take about two years, for them to complete and start operations. This, of course, has been delayed a little. So 2020 was not in the reckoning. If they had started in 2020, we would be looking at 2022. We are hoping that we can still be on track, fast track a few things and, of course, still be able to do maybe the last quarter of 2022 or early 2023 for Ajaokuta to come onstream.”

Powerful Nigerians Are Seeking Release Of Illegal Chinese Miners – Minister

 

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, on Friday, said powerful Nigerians are seeking the release of some Chinese illegal miners arrested in Osun on May 4.

Adegbite, who was speaking to journalists in Abuja, said the Osun state government has resisted the efforts so far.

On May 4, some 17 Chinese nationals and nine Nigerians were arrested by the Osun State Joint Task Force (JTF) for illegal mining in the state.

READ ALSO: 17 Chinese, 9 Others Arrested For Illegal Mining In Osun

The Deputy Chief of Staff to the Osun State Governor, Abdullahi Binuyo, said the illegal miners were arrested following a coordinated sting operation around the Ilesa and Ife axis of the state.

He explained that the illegal miners had polluted the Osun River with poisonous metals, thereby making it unsafe for human consumption and irrigation.

However, Minister Adegbite said the government had been pressured to release the offenders.

“There have been pressures, especially in Osun,” he said. “There has been pressure on the state government that these people should be released. Because most of these people are working for Nigerians. Nigerians in high positions, Nigerians in authority. But, thank God, the Osun state government has so far resisted this pressure.”

Special courts for offenders

At the briefing on Friday, the Minister also intimated that the federal government is working to set up special courts in every state of the federation to check the activities of illegal miners.

Nigeria has massive mining resources and the federal government says it wants to position the sector to contribute three per cent to GDP by 2025.

However, the activities of illegal miners continue to undermine progress.

In April 2019, the government banned mining in Zamfara state, after security forces considered illegal mining to be behind an ongoing spree of violence and kidnapping in the region.

Adegbite said part of the problem has been the inability to prosecute past offenders due to the clogged nature of the nation’s courts.

“In the past, we’ve had challenges for people we’ve caught,” Adegbite said on Friday. “Because the federal high courts in every state are so busy. Whenever we file a case, we find that it gets lost in the long list of cases. And it is not unusual for you to find somebody who had been arraigned in court to be caught again doing the same offence.

“So sometimes early this year, around January, I went to see the Chief Justice of the Federation on this and he advised that we should work with the Chief Judge of the Federal High Courts and the Attorney-General to designate some particular courts within the existing court system in every state for mining offences. So that we can have accelerated hearings and, of course, do justice with these people. So this set of people that have been caught now, we’ve asked the state to prosecute them to the maximum extent of the law.”

We Are Praying Ajaokuta Steel Company Starts Production By 2022, Says Adegbite

Reps Ask FG To Terminate Reconcession Deal On Ajaokuta Steel Company
A file photo of Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State

 

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, has said that with the progress made during the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, the Federal Government is praying that production in Ajaokuta Steel company should begin within the next two or three years.

President Muhammadu Buhari in October, met with President Vladimir Putin during the summit to discuss opportunities in exploring and expanding security, trade and investment, science and technology, and gas production.

The highlights of the meeting include putting Nigeria-Russia relations on a fast track and pursue the completion of partially completed and abandoned projects initiated by both countries.

READ ALSO: Capital Importation Into Nigeria Declines By 7.7%

Mr Adegbite who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today gave more insight on the outcome of the meeting and what the mid-term expectations are about the Ajaokuta steel company located in Kogi state, which has gulped billions of naira by successive administrations since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999.

The Minister explained that the Federal Government is looking at exploring the potentials of the mines and steel sector in its diversification drive, owing to what it can offer the country if properly harnessed.

He added that government in the past had adopted different methods, including the private and commercial sector to complete and ensure it produces steel, but all attempts have been futile.

“Government had tried in the past since Ajaokuta was completed to make sure that it produces steel; we tried with the private and commercial sector, but it never worked.

“We have tried using the private sector to kick-start Ajaokuta but it never worked, so we decided to go back to the original builders of Ajaokuta which was built by the Soviet Union in those days, particularly between Russian Federation and Ukraine, which is the request the President made to President Putin in Russia and he agreed on this government to government relationship to bring Ajaokuta back on stream.”

On the issue of funding, he revealed that support will be gotten from both the Russian Export Centre and the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM Bank), while adding that both governments are still studying the draft Memorandum of Understanding, with the hope that concrete steps will be taken afterward.

“We are at that point where both sides are understudying the draft MoU and we are hoping that before the end of the year or early January, we will be able to sign this MoU.

“Once that is done, it would kick-start the proper agreement with a Russian company, nominated by the Russian Government coming over to complete the works in Ajaokuta and we are praying that within the next two years or three, Ajaokuta should be able to produce,” he stated.

Mr. Adegbite added that the multibillion-dollar Ajaokuta Steel Mill, the largest in Nigeria, has a great chance and the agreement with the Russian government will make it work.

Ajaokuta steel construction started in 1979 by the Soviet Union under a corporation agreement with the Federal Government. The project reached 98 percent completion but is yet to produce a single sheet of steel to date.

In April, President Buhari rejected assent to a bill, Ajaokuta Steel Company Completion Fund passed by the eight National Assembly headed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

He explained that appropriating $1 billion from Excess Crude Account for funding the project as stipulated in the bill was not the best strategic option for Nigeria and such amount cannot be deployed, owing to the priorities given to other socioeconomic projects.

Ogun Govt. Begins Road Construction In Abeokuta

The Ogun State Government has commenced the construction of a 7.5km six-lane dual carriage, Ogun Standard Road, along the Enugada-Adatan-Ajitadun-Mokola-Ake axis in Abeokuta.

The State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, assured residents that the project and other ongoing projects across the state would be completed in record time.

While monitoring a demolition exercise to pave way for the road, Governor Amosun reaffirmed that his administration will not abandon any project.

He promised that more developmental projects that will be of immense benefit to Ogun citizens would be constructed before the end of his tenure.

The Deputy Governor, Yetunde Onanuga, also thanked the people for their cooperation, saying there was no resistance of any kind against the demolition.

According to her, it was an indication that the people appreciate the development government is bringing to the area.

On his part, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Olamilekan Adegbite, said the State Government is paying a total of eight billion Naira as compensation for the houses affected by the demolition exercise.

Adegbite, who revealed that about two billion Naira had already been disbursed, added that apart from payment of compensation, the State Government is also providing temporary relocation support for the aged and physically challenged affected by the demolition exercise.

Some of the residents who spoke to reporters, Mr Sina Akinpelu and Mrs Monsurat Akinbile, expressed satisfaction with the development.

They urged the State Government to fast track the compensation plan, as well as ensure timely completion of the project as promised.

Ogun Government Modernises Old Markets

AmosunThe Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun has taken started modernising old markets in Abeokuta, the state’s capital, as part of the urban renewal efforts of the government and one of the five cardinal points of his administration.

In Ogun State, southwest Nigeria, old, unplanned markets and ‎residents are some of the structures that have been affected by road construction in recent times.

According to the report ,the modernisation of urban cities and the urbanisation of rural ones often come with its own challenges‎ like the acquisition of rights of way and the compensation of affected residents.

‎New stalls and blocks of flats to accommodate the displaced are currently nearing completion in Shapon, Itoku and Omida, and the Ogun State Governor,  Ibikunle Amosun tours some of the sites to ensure timely delivery.

The modern market in Ogun State, Shapon area of the capital has 140 lock up stalls ‎and extra space to cater to the needs of petty traders at Omida. It is a bigger structure and work is on going.

For now the traders have their wares displayed and sold on sidewalks but they can’t wait to move into the malls.

The commissioner for works and infrastructure, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, said that the new markets were built to ensure that business activities were not halt by development activities going on in the state.

When eventually put to use, the new markets will provide decent business environment to traders in the state and also enhance the beauty of the environment.