The House of Representatives will join the battle to raise $500million needed to complete the last phase of the Ajaokuta Steel project, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said on Monday.
He said except the political will is lacking, getting the funds to complete the company should not be an issue, given the importance of the firm to the country’s development.
Dogara who spoke in Kogi State when he led a delegation of lawmakers to the state, which hosts the long-neglected steel firm, said the lawmakers would not support any move to privatize the company because doing so would be tantamount to “concessioning Nigeria’s future.”
The speaker described as “a collective shame to all leaders that the project is yet to be completed after so many years,” stating that the House would consult with stakeholders to work out ways to source for the $500 million adding that leadership problem was responsible for why the project was ledt uncompleted.
He said there were many ways through which the $500 million could be sourced. He listed the Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Excess Crude Account and the recovered financial crimes loot.
The Speaker said the House would invite Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman Ibrahim Magu to brief the House on how much his agency had recovered from corruption proceeds that could be pumped into the completion of the project.
He explained that his determination to ensure that the steel company is revived is borne out of the promises that the company held for Nigeria’s teeming population in the form of power and gas development, economic boost, thousands of jobs creation, development of manufacturing sector, development of infrastructure and investor appeal, among others.
He said: “Imagine if this plant had been completed in 1986, where Nigeria would be at the moment. Any patriotic Nigerian that visits this place will shed tears irrespective of the part the person is from and for a foreigner that visits here, when he hears people describe this place as a shithole, he will go with the impression that it may be true. We have no reason not to complete that plant.
“You cannot concession your future, it is never done. I’m yet to see a nation that even concessions its bedrock and still succeeded. If you see one, just tell me. And that’s why previous attempts to concession it were not possible.
“We keep doing repeating the same things and expecting to get different results. That’s the definition of stupidity and since we are not stupid, we will not repeat it. We can make Nigeria proud so that every black man in the world can beat his chest. Anyone who plans to outsource the completion of this plant will definitely run into problems with us.”
The team also visited Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello where Dogara said “We all know the benefits of steel development. You cannot be an industrialised nation without developing the steel sector.
“Of course, I’ve seen the resolution that was passed and adopted by the Kogi State House of Assembly but I feel that this is just not a Kogi issue, this is a Nigerian issue in view of the major promise that this sector holds for Nigeria.
“I believe that as soon as we put this plant into operation, immediately there will be 10,000 jobs for engineers and technical staff. That’s even as the level of the first phase and talk about other non-engineering staff, thousands again and other splinter opportunities that will come, that’s a projected two million jobs.
“We don’t need money, all we need is leadership. Wherever you see development anywhere in the world, it is not money that brought it, but leadership. As a matter of fact, it is even leadership that brings the money.”