TO complete the final phase of the Ajaokuta Steel firm, N3 billion will be needed to hire Russian experts to reactivate the 21 plants at the Iron and Steel Industry, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, said at the weekend.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Mines and Steel Development, said the project may remain comatose if the N3 billion is not provided for in next year’s budget.
The senator lamented that some employees of the firm working in Mining Cadastral Office, will not get their monthly salaries from January as the World Bank which is responsible for the payment has already informed the Federal Government of its resolve to stop financing the staff beginning from January 2021.
The senator lamented that the money has not been included in the 2021 budgetary proposal for the ministry.
According to him, a presentation to that effect had been made to the Senate Committee on Appropriation during the submission of the 2021 budget estimates of the ministry last week.
Almakura said the remarks made by the committee, led by Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North), for the provision of the funds 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 N3 billion to make her decades old efforts, a mirage. Resuscitation of Ajaokuta is key to Industrial development of the country.
The Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals Ministry appealed to us during the budget defence, to add N3 billion to its allocation. Since we cannot on our own as joint committees on Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals, increase the envelope presented to us by the ministry, we pushed the appeal to the appropriation committee for the required appropriation.
The N3billion is very necessary in saving the Iron and Steel Project from being comatose.”
He added that completion of the project, would serve as catalyst for diversification of the nation’s economy which is one of the key policies of the President Muhamnadu Buhari-led administration.
On staffers whose salaries would be stopped from next year January, Almakura explained that they are contract staff and their monthly salaries have been footed in the past years, from interventions from the World Bank which had notified the country that it will stop that gesture after December this year.
When contacted on whether the N3 billion will be appropriated as additional fund for the Iron and Steel Company, Senator Barau was non-committal.
He said though diversification of the economy is a necessity at this time, but the paucity of funds remains the stumbling block in acceding to such demands since the N13.08 trillion budget was projected on expected revenues and not monies already warehoused.