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FG To Designate Ajaokuta As Industrial Park, Free Trade Zone To Attract Foreign Direct Investment
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FG To Designate Ajaokuta As Industrial Park, Free Trade Zone To Attract Foreign Direct Investment

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…As Audu Reveals Plans to Ensure Steel Production Under 3-year Plan

The Minister of Steel Development, Prince Shuaibu Abubakar Audu has revealed plans of the Federal Government to make the Ajaokuta environ a Free Trade Zone to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and to diversify the economy of the country.

Prince Shuaibu Abubakar Audu, Honorable Minister Of Steel Development disclosed this during his maiden visit to the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCOL) on Wednesday, as he took a tour of the Steel Complex.

Shuaibu also pledged his commitment to ensure the production of steel from the multi-billion dollar investment project of the Federal Government under a three-year plan.

The Minister who was accompanied on the trip by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Mary Ogbe, Staff of the Ministry, and some foreign investors, said that the visit was aimed at giving him a first-hand knowledge of the problems stopping production in the company in a bid to proffering solutions.

The Minister said that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has also taken interest in the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel Complex by appointing him as the pioneer Minister to show the world the importance of Steel Development to industrialization.

Audu further stated that Ajaokuta Steel Company if gotten right will create over 500,000 jobs which will be enough to lift Nigerians out of poverty.

“We want to thank the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for having the vision to create a Steel Development Ministry.

“Over the past 40 years, we had the largest Steel Plant in Nigeria and one of the largest West Africa which has not functioned but the President knows that in other to industrialize Nigeria, we have to get the steel industry working.

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“In line with the 8 point agenda of ‘Renewed Hope mantra’ of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, one of the key elements are job creation, diversification of the economy and to attract Foreign Direct Investment. If we are able to revitalize Ajaokuta, it will help us achieve this. This key point agenda will also help us eradicate poverty.

“To achieve this, we have put together two documents. A three-year plan for the revival of Ajaokuta Steel Company which will have a Small and Medium Term Plan.

“Part of the things is the roadmap to designate the 24,000 hectares land of Ajaokuta an Industrial Park, to create a Free Trade Zone that will further attract Foreign Direct Investment.

“My job is to try and ensure that all those typical issues that have held the plant from producing will be resolved. And by the first term of this administration, if we are able to produce some sheet of steel, it will be a significant achievement.

“I have taken an extensive tour of the complex and plants, and there are lots of opportunities that if we are able to unlock we will be able to create over 500,000 jobs which will benefit kogites bit more importantly, Nigerians. This will also guarantee that everyone benefits from the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, “ Audu said.

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Audu further said that he was on the tour with potential foreign investors and experts who have shown interest in bringing FDI to unlock these potentials.

Different investors given different components also worked in resuscitating moribund steel plants in other countries.

The Minister said that the investors will carry out an advanced technical audit of the steel complex and its facilities so see what more is to be done.

“I am being accompanied here today by investors who are ready to put their expertise to ensure that this steel company works.

“We have the Russians, Americans, Arabs and Chinese who are showing interest. They have come to show their desire to carry out an advanced technical audit to see what needs to be completed.

“After my findings from here, we will forward everything to Mr President for his approval,” Audu said.

Audu said that in addition to the three-year plan, the five-year plan which would also see to ensuring the production of steel in other parts of the country.

He said that he is beginning his tour of office at the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the Itakpe Iron Ore Mining Company Limited, the two places which host the biggest investment and deposit of Steel production and Iron Ore in Nigeria and West Africa.

Audu however called for the commitment of Staff of the Company to their duties to ensure that they achieve the desired goal of Mr President and the hope of Nigerians in reviving the steel industry.

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Engr. Sumaila Abdul-Akaba, Sole Administration and Chief Executive Officer thanked Mr President for reviving the hope of Nigerians by making Ajaokuta a priority again.

Abdul-Akaba also commended Audu for his great vision and plans in reviving the company, noting that Ajaokuta is a land of vast opportunities.

“Unlike the thinking of so many people, Ajaokuta is not obsolete but only requires the right attention to get the multi-billion dollar running again.

“All we have to do as staff is to join hands with the visions of the President and also key into the plans of the Minister,” Abdul-Alkaba said.

Mr Jalil Hkoodshoev, a Foreign Investor from Novostal-M Company in Russia, applauded the initiatives of Mr. President in reviving the company.

Hkoodshoev noted that with what they have seen on ground, they are very interested in investing in the company, adding that the resuscitation of the company would be a big impact not only to Nigeria but the entire West Africa, and the African region in general.

“I assisted His Excellency with this trip to Ajaokuta, I am mesmerized about the size of the plant. It is amazing and I think that the initiatives that have been taken by His Excellency, the President of Nigeria will have a big impact not only for Nigeria but all the sub-region and all of Africa.

“I hope that in the next couple of years, we can participate also as partners of the government for this project, and for the steel business,” Hkoodshoev said.

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