Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, has said that Nigeria needs about $2 billion to revitalize the Ajaokuta Steel Complex in order to be able to function at maximum capacity.
This was contained in a publication by the ministry which was made available to journalists in Abuja.According to the publication, the Ajaokuta steel mill, which was constructed by Russians in 1979, has a maximum production capacity of five million metric tonnes of steel per annum.
The company was later given out on concession to an Indian firm, Global Steel Holdings Limited, for $300 million, under the privatisation programme of the federal government.
However, following allegations of asset stripping by the Indian firm, the concession was eventually cancelled by the late President Umar Yar’Adua on April 1, 2008, leading to a law suit by the Indian company against the federal government at the International Court of Arbitration.
The present administration, whose diversification programme is centred on solid minerals development on the one hand and agricultural development on the other, has now secured an out of court settlement with GSHL.
The company agreed to withdraw the suit while the federal government conceded to it the right to operate the Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, an iron ore feeder plant to the Ajaokuta steel complex.
It remains unclear how the government intends to fund the resuscitation ofthe steel complex.
Meanwhile a group of protesters held a demonstration in Abuja last week,calling on the FG to revive the company.
The protesters want President Muhammadu Buhari to cancel all its dealing with the Indian firm as well as dispel rumours of a possible takeover by Chinese investors.
They suggested that President Buhari should hold bilateral talks with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, saying that it was better to relate with the one that built the steel complex than starting fresh negotiations with China.