‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja
DAILY COURIER – The Federal Government has said the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia/Ukraine war stalled the planned take-off of the full operation of Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, said this when he was featured on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) flagship programme in Abuja.
Expressing regret that the Federal Government could not keep to its promise because of situations beyond its control, Adegbite said, the present administration had already laid a solid foundation for full take-off of the steel company, hopefully by the next administration.
“We engaged the Russians in 2019 when I came on board as the minister to help us to fix Ajaokuta.
“In 2019, at the Russian African Summit in Russia, the Russian President acceded to the request of Mr President and we started.
“We came back from Russia and I told Nigerians that before President Muhammadu Buhari will leave office in 2023, we will get Ajaokuta working.
“This is because we had a road map and a timeline but as they often say in the common parlance, man proposes God disposes”, he said, adding that the plan was to start the process of revamping the company in March 2020, by embarking on a technical audit.
The minister said the technical audit was meant to be the starting point that would outline all that was required to be done in Ajaokuta.
He said the Russians could not come because of the pandemic, adding “we were actually expectant toward the end of 2020, then came the second wave of the pandemic.
“So, coming out in 2019 to promise Nigerians that the Ajaokuta will work, I think I owe it to Nigerians to come and apologise.
“There is the need to let Nigerians know that it is not because we did not want to do it, or we were just bragging but because of things that were beyond our control.
“So, we can no longer make Ajaokuta work before President Muhammadu Buhari will leave office but we have started an irreversible process.”