Senate Roots for $1bn Loan to Revive Ajaokuta Steel

The Senate, on Thursday, resolved to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan on the need to facilitate one billion US dollars needed to totally revamp and resuscitate the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company.
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This was as the upper legislative body and the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Musa Sada, got engaged in a stormy session over how the steel company can be revived for the needed industrialisation of the country.

The issue came up during an interactive session between the minister and the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy.

The chairman of the committee, Senator Philip Aduda, said the Senate would seek audience with the president on the loan for the revamping of the auxiliary infrastructure of the steel company.

“We need to have audience with Mr President on the Ajaokuta Steel project before budgetary allocation for 2014 fiscal year.

“This is to be able to know the amount of loans that will be needed to move the sector forward because without the sector there can be industrialisation in the country”, he said.

The Senate committee, however, took a swipe at the minister for not consulting with it in the quest to raise the loan.

While questioning the minister, the committee accused his ministry and, by extension, the Federal Government of procrastinating, over the years, on how to get the needed loan for the completion of the project.

A member of the committee, Senator Nurudeen Abatemi, lamented that despite the promise made by President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2010, that Ajaokuta Steel Development Company would soon come on board, there was nothing on ground to reflect the revival of the moribund project, three years later.

Abatemi, queried the minister on why his ministry, through the Presidency, had not sought for the one billion dollar loan as estimated by relevant stakeholders needed for putting back to shape the auxiliary infrastructure in the place.

He asked the minister whether he was being hampered in any way, given the numerous letters forwarded by the Presidency to the National Assembly, seeking for legislative approval.

The minister, however, said, rather than raw cash in form of loans, what was needed to put the steel complex back in shape was an improvement on its auxiliary infrastructure.

“The project needs massive provision of auxilliary infrastructure to revamp and put the steel company back on stream,” he said.

According to the minister, the most critical thing hindering the effective and efficient functionality of the Ajaokuta Steel Company as envisioned was infrastructure like rail track from Ajaokuta, connecting the sea ports.

This, he said, is needed for conveyance of needed raw materials and finished products.

He, however, said the present administration had been painstakingly addressing the needed infrastructure for the steel producing company to function effectively.

The minister said the Federal Government was just being careful not to repeat the mistake of the past by just obtaining loans without a proper planning on which were the most critical aspect of projects to expend such loans upon.

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