Nigeria Needs Over $2bn To Revive Ajaokuta Steel Plant – FG

by Ohepo Ohepo

The Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL), once envisioned as the cornerstone of Nigeria’s industrial development, remains a glaring testament to persistent governmental neglect and unfulfilled promises. Despite spanning over 17 administrations, the facility continues to sit largely dormant, embodying the squandered potential of a nation’s industrial ambitions.

The story of Ajaokuta Steel is one of continuous hope and consistent disappointment. Since its inception in 1958 under the auspices of the National Steel Development Authority, the facility was meant to drive Nigeria’s push towards industrialization. Located in Kogi State, just 38 km from Lokoja, the plant was equipped with extensive infrastructure including 26 housing estates, a network of roads, a captive power plant, and water treatment facilities. By 1994, 40 out of the 42 plant units were reportedly completed.

However, despite the significant investment, estimated to have cost billions of dollars over the decades, Ajaokuta Steel has yet to produce a single sheet of steel. The project has seen numerous leaders, from Tafawa Balewa and Nnamdi Azikiwe in the pre-independence era to Muhammadu Buhari and the current President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, each promising revitalization without result.

The Federal Government’s renewed attempt in 2016, which saw the renegotiation of concession agreements and the reclamation of the steel complex from Global Steel Holdings Limited, was yet another attempt to kickstart the stagnant project. This was followed by the 2020 inauguration of the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Implementation Team (APPIT) under President Buhari, which aimed to revive and operationalize the plant based on its original design.

Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha, cited past implementation failures and force majeure situations as the main obstacles that have hindered progress for over four decades, leading to substantial foreign exchange losses and missed economic opportunities for Nigeria.

Despite these efforts, the steel mill remains unoperational, symbolizing a chronic inability to harness potential resources for national development. The Ajaokuta saga not only reflects on the inefficiencies within governmental planning and execution but also underscores the broader challenges of policy continuity and execution in Nigeria’s political landscape.

As Ajaokuta Steel Company marks another decade of inactivity, the question remains whether the current government under President Tinubu can finally change the narrative and transform this long-standing monument of failure into a functional enterprise that contributes to Nigeria’s economic landscape.

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