“Founded in 1979, Ajaokuta Steel is yet to roll out a single sheet of steel.” This sad tale is about to become once upon a time as proven by the October government-to-government agreements signed in Sochi, between President Muhammadu Buhari and his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.
Of course, Nigerians might be hesitant about the sincerity of the Russians, after all, it is they (Soviet Union), in connivance with Nigeria’s corrupt political class who have failed to get the job done, ever since the first agreement was reached over 40 years ago. However, Nigerians should find solace in the fact that the previous agreements were on the basis of government-to-company(ies) collaboration rather than the hitherto inter-governmental show.
Even before the October agreement in Sochi, Russia, the federal government had allocated N3.796 billion to the steel plant in the 2020 budget. Thus, a new chapter is openned, indeed!
Progressively, the recent visit of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, to Ajaokuta Steel Complex on November 1, 2019, reiterates the utmost good faith of the current Next Level administration to see to the completion of this ‘mother of all projects’. Adegbite recognised the roles of workers at the facility as well as members of the host community for maintaining and safeguarding the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialisation.
It is on this background that this writer sends his appreciation and gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for keeping to his promises and showing rare political will and faith in revamping the moribund status of Ajaokuta Steel. Indeed, Nigerians would have thought that Mr President would behave like previous administrations in not making the Ajaokuta project a priority, especially as he is already in his second tenure. But, like in many cases so far, President Buhari has proven to be different.
Therefore, the good people of Kogi state in particular, and Nigerians in extension, are extremely grateful for the uncommon gestures of this Next Level administration.
Behold, come the fears of this writer! Now that the Ajaokuta Steel is certain to be completed, how have the people of Ebiraland (the host community) and Kogites in general prepared themselves to explore the golden opportunities about to avail itself? Going by recent statistics on illiteracy in Ebiraland, one would be dismayed at how pathetic the situation has become.
It the youth of Kogi central have shamelessly resigned to docility and other accultural undoings rather than embrace education as one of the surest tools to civility and success. To worsen the predicaments, successive administrations in the state have notably failed to strengthen state owned institutions, thus giving credence to the dooming choices of her naive young citizens. Alas, the consequences of these will soon become glaring by the time non-indigenes overwhelm the population of employable indigenes at the Ajaokuta Steel.
It is better late than never, so, I believe that the state government, under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello, can still curtail the damning menace by strengthening the education sector and all other relevant institutions such as hospitals, housing, road, electricity and provision of other basic amenities. By so doing, we can be sure that the Ajaokuta Steel will be effectively managed and conserved for the sake of productivity!
Km8, Okene/ Lokoja Road,
Adavi LGA Kogi state,