By Peter Usman;//
Chairman, Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines and Metallurgy, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, has identified inadequate funds as the major challenge of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and solid minerals development
Specifically, he said that the much desired development in the company and solid minerals sector would not be achieved in the nearest future over the federal government’s failure to allocate special funds to them in the 2022 budget.
Al-Makura, who spoke while fielding questions from newsmen after presenting the budget of the sector before the Committee on Appropriations, said: “We found that the much desired growth in this sector may not be easily achievable without very special allocation to this ministry.”
Speaking during the budget defence, he decried the repetition of most of the items provided in the 2021 budget in the new proposal, regretting that it has become like a stereotyping of budget for solid minerals development.
To this end, he cautioned that if Nigeria truly desires economic development and diversification, especially in the solid minerals sector in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, there must be some initiative in ensuring that the budget is pragmatic.
The chairman, however, appealed to the committee to consider ways and means of finding a special funding to the Ministry of Solid Minerals, warning that otherwise, those things the ministry is expected to achieve might not be realisable, especially looking at the concern and the passion Nigeria has for the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
He lamented that for the past two years when the initiative was put forward to reactivate the Ajaokuta Steel Company, there has not been any meaningful allocation to the company.
“With that, the much expected takeoff or reactivation of the company might not be made, except where there is a special fund. I would like to request the chairman to look passionately into this request.
“There is great hope for the solid mineral industry to grow. In the budget we presented today, the framework for effective growth is there, what is lacking is the funding, because there is so much talk about economic growth and diversification, which the solid mineral sector is supposed to drive among other sectors like agriculture, power.
“This may not be realised if certain special consideration is not made to this Ministry to drive the process. Not only the solid mineral, which has the capacity to create wealth across the country because given the natural endowment, every state has in this country. There is no state that does not have one kind of solid mineral or another.
“So, the government should take into consideration the widespread presence of these minerals across the states and the funding should be in tandem with this multiplicity of opportunities across the states”, he said.
Also speaking, a member of the Committee on Appropriations, Senator Smart Adeyemi, who is from Kogi State, said solid minerals are very key to Nigeria’s socio-economic development.
“As a nation coping with a large number of unemployed people, this sector is very important. It is key, it will help the nation in terms of job creation and employment opportunities,” he said.
Speaking earlier during the budget defence session with the Chairman of the Committee on Solid Minerals and Mines and Metallurgy,
In his remarks, the chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Senator Barau Jibrin said a lot of money has been spent to revive Ajaokuta Steel Company, yet it has remained in a state of decay.
He pointed out that the company has not been utilised to its installation capacity, saying the situation calls for the involvement of everybody to make sure the company is resuscitated, given its importance to Nigeria.