*Return to original builders of the plant if we must advance forward
By Collins Ajibola
All is now set for “The Ajaokuta Awareness Walk”, slated for Wednesday 25th January, 2017 in the nation’s capital as a way of calling for attention to the abandoned wealth creation infrastructure.
In a press release signed by the Media Team of the Ajaokuta Awareness Walk,we have decided to set up this organised sensitisation march that will start from the Eagle square and end at National Assembly complex as well as the set of government, Aso Rock Villa.
According to the group, there is still great opportunity for Nigeria to be great again, if the human and natural resources are harnessed to the fullest.
“The good news is that we may still have a window of opportunity to extricate Nigeria from the clutches of this quagmire; only if we have the political will. What is now clear is that only the original builders of the steel plant may be able to complete the remaining 2% left needed to fire up Ajaokuta’s blast furnace for the production of steel and steel products in Nigeria.
“If two other international companies could not start its machines, it corroborates the fact that, just maybe, we need the original builders back to finish what they had started. Nigeria has reached a point where it needs to hold diplomatic talks with the Russian Government and seek ways to smoothening the friction that has built up between both nations regarding this project.
Nigeria should do the needful and give Tyazpromexport (TPE) the benefit of the First Rights of Refusal before exploring other alternatives.”
It stated that the march is mainly to prevail on the Federal Government to urgently kick start the process of reviving the Steel Company.
“The march is majorly to prevail on the government of Nigeria to facilitate the following: firstly, that President Muhammadu Buhari terminate forthwith any agreement with Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited (GINL), and that the company be declared persona non grata in Nigeria; secondly, that President Muhammadu Buhari sets up a high powered delegation to meet with the President of Russia Mr. Vladimir Putin to open bilateral talks that include finding ways of bringing back TPE (TyazhPromExport), the original builders of the plant to complete the remaining 2% for the plant’s take off.”
“Also, we demanding that Mr. President forthwith, directly handles all businesses relating to Ajaokuta/Itakpe Iron Ore and Steel Plants as a way of cutting out the cabal, thereby getting first hand information on the processes and procedures involved in its revival. In addition, that royalties and compensation be paid to the community that houses the steel plant, including families of those who lost their lives in a genuine course of fighting patriotically for the protection of our national interest (Ogaminana Massacre of 2008).”
The Ajaokuta/Itakpe Revival Movement, a component of the Nigeria Alliance For Industrial Revolution and Advancement (NAIRA), is a group of Nigerian youths from all over the country, that was formed with the sole purpose of leveraging on our vast human and natural resources to grow Nigeria from a 3rd world country to an industrialised nation.
This we intend to do by first awakening in us the drive and willingness to be a developed nation through the pricking of our thought process, stimulating our curiosity, and motivating the need to replace passive interest and lip service with positive actions and visible activities.
The key highlights of the awareness walk, according the group will include a media briefing, speeches by different speakers, poetry readings, video & music presentations etc.
They however affirmed that the Awareness Walk is not to a protest against the government; rather it’s a campaign to draw the attention to issues before everyday Nigerians and government in a manner that is positive and inspiring.
There is no gainsaying that Nigeria is now in a position where it should be using its natural resources for accelerated wealth creation to bring about socio-economic transformation and development. East to West, North to South, the forests abound with various species of woods which provide an ample base for a network of manufacturing activities.
Many of these activities can be carried out on a small or a large scale too. Our lands across the federation are a great benefactor to us. It can and should provide us with food and valuable timber for different development purposes.
However, the challenge for the country has been how to govern and harness this rich pool of natural resources to achieve a broad-based growth for the benefit of the populace.
Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) is one of the most ignored multifunctional projects in Nigeria’s history. Regrettably successive leaders have continued a deliberate gang-rape and slow, painful death it has come to experience. The gigantic plant was conceived to be built as far back as 1971 when the Federal Government, under the then military head of state General Yakubu Gowon, passed into law decree No. 19 establishing the Nigerian Steel Development Authority (NSDA), a body saddled with the responsibility of establishing a steel industry in Nigeria.
The political will was evidenced by the fast pace with which the NSDA got to work. Between 1971 and 1979, they had submitted Preliminary Project report (PPR), Detailed Project Report (DPR) and the Global Contract.