AUTHOR: Bunmi Aduloju
President Muhammadu Buhari says the Ajaokuta Steel Company is ready to be concessioned to private investors.
Buhari disclosed this while inaugurating several projects in Kogi on Thursday.
The projects include: the Reference Hospital, Okene; the newly-built Ohinoyi’s palace, and the Confidence University of Science and Technology, Osara.
In Lokoja, Buhari inaugurated the Ganaja flyover bridge, the Muhammadu Buhari Civic Centre, and the GYB Model Science Secondary School, Adankolo.
He lauded Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi, for his performance in the areas of security and project execution in the state, and also for following his government’s vision of bringing democratic benefits to the citizens.
Buhari said he was inaugurating projects in the state to fulfill campaign promises the governor made to the people of Kogi state.
“I have been briefed by Governor Yahaya Bello of the numerous projects he has executed for the people which include Confluence University of Science and Technology at Osara, Rice mill in Ejiba, hospitals in Idah, Kabba, and Okene, construction of roads in the three senatorial districts, GYB model secondary schools among others,” he said.
“In Lokoja there is a flyover project, the first of its kind in Kogi since the state’s creation”.
Buhari further pointed out that the state is hosting the AKK gas pipeline projects that would be completed next year.
He added that the project would help boost the economic activities of the country, saying the multiplying effect on the people of the state remains unquantifiable.
AJAOKUTA STEEL COMPANY READY FOR CONCESSIONING
Buhari said no project was closer to his heart than the Ajaokuta steel company in Kogi state, which he noted was inherited in a moribund state from previous governments.
“I am glad to say that through our concerted effort we are able to settle the dispute by paying some money and the company is now ready for concessioning to competent private investors that will operationalise it for the people of Kogi state and Nigerians at large,” he said.
“We are in talks with a reputable company in the United States and by God’s grace Ajaokuta will very soon come back to serve the people of Nigeria.
“The significance of making Ajaokuta steel work again is enormous as it will generate over 500, 000 jobs for Nigerian youth and also generate high revenue for the state and the country to the tune of over $1.6 billion annually.
“Nigerians should be rest assured that my administration will pursue the issue of Ajaokuta steel company to logical conclusion before I leave office as president of Nigeria”.
“I am impressed by the performances of governor Yahaya Bello, he has done very well in the area of security and project execution in Kogi state.
“We are proud of him, and we urged him to do more for the people, and I am appealing to the people of Kogi state to support him so that he can achieve and deliver more dividends of democracy and achieve peace and development of the state.”
While the steel company has been moribund for years, Olamilekan Adegbite, minister of mines and steel development had said 11 companies were involved in the concession bid for Ajaokuta plant.
Also speaking at the inauguration, Bello said: “Mr. President we hit the ground running and you told me to be courageous in leadership and how to bring out my best and today the project is an attestation of our best to the people of Kogi state.
“I followed your footsteps in ensuring that projects and infrastructures that have a direct impact on the people.”
Bello appealed for the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company, adding that no country can achieve industrialisation without iron and steel.
“We are still confident that your effort toward revitalisation of the steel company will still be achieved before the expiration of your tenure,” he said.
Meanwhile, an explosion rocked a community in Okene LGA of Kogi state on Thursday morning.
The incident was said to have occurred at a mosque near the palace of Ado Ibrahim, the paramount ruler of Ebiraland.
At the time of the incident, Buhari was in the area to inaugurate the projects.