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Senate Seeks Revamp of Ajaokuta Steel Company

  • Passes second bill in six monthsAjaokuta Steel Company

The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Thursday called on Federal Government to urgently revamp the Ajaokuta Steel Company with the hope of providing employment opportunities to the teeming Nigerian youths.

It also urged the Federal Government to undertake the immediate rehabilitation of the rail-lines and dredging of the waterways linking the Ajaokuta Steel Company.

As oil prices continue to nosedive below $36 in the international market sending Nigeria’s over dependent crude oil economy spiraling into recession, the Senate noted that Nigeria’s steel industry if properly developed could rival the nation’s oil sector in revenue generation and create direct and indirect employment opportunities as the steel sector is actually the highest employer of labour in developed countries.

This stance was made known in a motion sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye at the plenary session wherein the Senate expressed its sadness that Nigeria spends over 500 billion naira annually on steel importation while the Ajaokuta Steel Complex ‘rots’ and has ‘remained a mere vision’ bedeviled by multifarious challenges that is constantly used as campaign rhetorics.

While recalling the establishment of the company following the discovery of substantial iron ore deposits in Itakpe, Kogi State, in 1973 and the engagement of Messrs Tyajzhpromexport, TPE (a Russian Civil construction firm) for a 7 year construction agreement under former military Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo, it outlined massive corruption and policy inconsistency as a reason for the failure of the completion and optimisation of the company, even when the same Russian firm had its similar projects commissioned and delivered on schedule in China and other countries where steel development has made a significant impact on the advancement of their economies.

Debating the motion on the floor of the Senate chamber, Senator Ben Murray(Bayelsa East) Bruce whole heartedly seconded the motion but called for a critical look what exactly had led to the despairing condition of the Ajaokuta Steel complex despite the investment of billions of dollars into the project by the Federal Government.

After mandating the Senate Committee on Power and Steel development to undertake a holistic assessment of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex and other Steel Plants across the nation with a view to refurbishing them for their effective take off, Senate President, Olubukola Saraki reiterated that Ajaokuta Steel Complex is truly critical in Nigeria’s journey to industrialisation.

Meanwhile, the 8th Senate also passed its second bill in 6 months, since its inauguration on Tuesday June 9, 2015. Known as the Electronic Transactions Bill, 2015 aimed at curtailing cybercriminal activities, it was actually the first Senate Bill to be passed by the current Senate, excluding the 2015 supplementary budget which had been sent by President Buhari.

In a related development, the attention of the Senate was drawn to the short-changing of Government by operators of various lottery agencies who fail to appropriately remit accrued revenues as required by extant laws.This was made known by Senator Dino Melaye who stated that lottery operators generated 4-5 billion Naira weekly and mandated to remit 20% of their revenue to the Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) according to the Act that set up the NLRC. The matter was postponed for deliberations to another legislative day.

Senator Suleiman Adokwe was also sworn in on Thursday as the Senator representing Nassarawa South Senatorial district after a long legal battle with his APC rival following the March 2015 election. 61 year old Adokwe of the PDP is no stranger to the upper chamber of the National Assembly as he was previously inaugurated into the 6th and 7th sessions.

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The Senate | Federal Republic of Nigeria | National Assembly Complex | Three Arms Zone, PMB 141, Abuja | Nigeria