The managements of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) and National Iron Ore Mining Company Limited (NIOMCO) have put in place machinery to ensure conducive environment for operation of the Technical Audit Team as the companies await their arrival from Russia. To this end, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Oluwatoyin Akinlade paid a two-day working visit to the two companies on December 2, 2020, to see the level of preparation.
Speaking during a meeting with management and staff of National Iron Ore Mining Company Limited (NIOMCO) and Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited respectively, Akinlade praised them for their passion and commitment toward keeping the infrastructures of the companies in good shape and the environment habitable in spite of the daunting challenges confronting them.
The Permanent Secretary reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to resuscitating both companies. She said the Minister, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite and Minister of State, Dr.Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, are assiduously working towards seeing the dream of the two companies starting full operation come to past.
She said: “Ajaokuta is the future, the bed rock of Nigeria development,” adding that the resuscitation “must be done, and can be done.”
However, she noted that Ajaokuta without NIOMCO, is like a “car without tyres,” hence efforts are being made to resuscitate both companies at the same time to achieve the desired result.
It will be recalled that in October 2019 in Sochi, Russia, President Muhammadu Buhari entered a Memorandum of Understanding with President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation on resuscitation and completion of Ajaokuta Steel Company. One of the strategies in that process is the technical audit of the installed equipment.
The Permanent Secretary urged the staff to sharpen their skills to meet up with upcoming task, as well as to continue to maintain the good industrial harmony, assuring them that efforts are being made to address some of the welfare challenges, especially salary arrears.
While briefing the Permanent Secretary, Sole Administrator, NIOMCO, Mr. Nkechika Augustus, said the mandate of the company is to provide the basic raw material for iron and steel production, and that NIOMCO is required to supply the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited with 2.15 million tons of iron ore concentrate with iron (FE) content of 63 – 64% in its first phase of operation during which it is expected to produce 1.3 million tons of steel.
“The need to fully complete the rehabilitation of the plants and also acquire additional mining equipment early cannot be overemphasized. This is because to meet the first phase of ASCL’s production level alone, NIOMCO should produce and process seven million tons of raw iron ore annually,” he said.
In the same vein, the Sole Administrator of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Engr. Sumaila Abdul-Akaba, informed the Permanent Secretary that the staff are fully prepared to work with the Technical Audit Team and the Ministry to achieve the set goal.
“I have had the rear opportunity to meet with you severally since you came on board and have found you to be focused, full of energy and drive. In fact, your leadership style at the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Implementation Team (APPIT) Secretariat gives me hope that our collective efforts of bringing back the Ajaokuta Steel plant back on track is in safe hand.”
“Your visit is an opportunity for you to physically see and feel the steel plant and understand what the workers of this steel plant are doing to ensure that the plant remain safe and serviceable,” he said.
The facilities inspected by the Permanent Secretary included blocks of flats for residential accommodation for the coming Technical Audit Team, office accommodation, transport facilities, medical Centre, equipment store, machine & tools shop, among others.