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‘N3bn may delay resuscitation of Ajaokuta steel firm’

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THE Senate on Sunday raised the alarm that the multi-million dollar Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Project which had been under construction for close to 40 years may soon collapse again.

The upper chamber said the project required N3bn urgently for the reactivation of its 21 plants next year.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines and Steel Development, Senator Tanko Almakura, stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja.

He also lamented that the employees of the iron and steel complex working in Mining Cadastral Office would no longer get their monthly salaries from January next year.

Almakura said this was because the World Bank which was responsible for their salaries had already informed the country of its decision to pull out of the gesture from January 2021.

Almakura said the N3bn required for facilitating the engagement of experts from Russia to reactive the 21 plants in the iron and steel complex was not included in the 2021 budget earmarked for the Ministry Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals.

He said he had made presentation to that effect to the Senate Committee on Appropriation during presentation of the 2021 budget estimates of the ministry to the committee on Thursday last week.

The senator said the remarks made by the committee led by Senator Barau, Jibrin for the provision of the money in the final report on the 2021 budget was not assuring enough.

He said, “Nigeria has spent a lot on the Ajaokuta project than to allow just N3bn to make her decades old efforts a mirage.

“Resuscitating Ajaokuta is key to industrialisation and development of the country. The Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals Ministry appealed to us during budget defence, to effect Appropriation for the N3bn.

“Since we cannot on our own as joint committees on Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals, increase the enveloped budget presented to us by the Ministry, we pushed the appeal to the Appropriation Committee for the required appropriation.

“The N3bn is very necessary to be provided for in saving the iron and steel project from total comatose,” he said.

Almakura explained that the workers being paid by the World Bank were contract staff working at the Mining Cadastral office of the complex.

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