A passionate believer in the possibility of a greater Nigeria, Mohammed Bougei Attah, fondly called MBA is a social worker, procurement professional and anti-corruption crusader. He is the Africa Regional Coordinator for the World Association of NGOs. In this interview with Wale Abydeen, MBA, who pilots NGO Network; a national civil society engagement advocates for new dawn in the industrialization sector. He harps on revitalization of Ajaokuta steel as a major panacea to unemployment and youth restfulness, noting that any politician or political party who fails to enunciate his or her vision on power, steel and revitalization of Ajaokuta Steel project may not catch his attention and that of his groups.
As an activist what’s your view about industrialization policy of the government?
My views as expressed by the actions of the present administration are based on several initiatives and drive in that direction.
Of course we have seen a lot of infrastructural development across Nigeria today. We are witness to the annual science and technology fair and most recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology was renamed to include innovation department. These are elements of industrialization and growth.
Despite all these however, we are still far behind to meeting the goal. Our industries are broken, there’s no functional steel industry or a sustainable ore mining sites that can boost the country’s industrial growth.
What’s the problem with steel company in Nigeria?
The problems are many, and about 90% of the problems are internal. Political Will is a huge challenge to Nigeria and Africa at large. Imagine Ajaokuta Steel Company that is 95% completed, with capacity to employ 60 thousand workforce, direct and indirect unattended to.
The government of Muhammadu Buhari promised the revival of Ajaokuta as part of his campaign promises. While I will say the government has made efforts, what is on the ground is not enough. What happened to the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Implementation Team, APPIT?
Where are the Russian experts expected to visit Nigeria on an evaluation exercise to kick start the process of recovery? Where is the AFREMIX Bank that is expected to provide the funding for this takeoff doing? So many questions unanswered.
How can FG revive Ajaokuta steel company?
As I said earlier, the process is on with many lofty ideas. The inauguration of a Presidential Team to oversee the possible revival of the steel company is a step towards accelerating steel production in Nigeria.
What is missing and on which we are advising the government is stop wastage on other non-performing projects like new refineries, concentrate and complete the existing ones like Ajaokuta Steel Company which is the Gateway to Nigeria industrialization. There are uncountable opportunities associated with ASCL if fully functional. Some of the areas include steel productions that can turnaround our future.
We can produce power to about six states in Nigeria. Oxygen that is so much needed for Corona Virus patients can be produced in Ajaokuta. Rail rods, housing needs etc are parts of the benefits of a functional steel industry. We are mindful of these benefits and that is why we are embarking on a maiden Steel Conference in Nigeria.
What’s your conference all about?
This upcoming Conference which is tagged National Conference on Ajaokuta Steel Project and President Muhammadu Buhari Industrialization Agenda is the first of its kind in the Ajaokuta phenomenon.
It is specifically design to interrogate the issues and bottlenecks around the revival of the steel company. It is means to reawaken the consciousness of Nigerians to the realization that our hope for the future, in the midst of dwindling resources is Ajaokuta Steel Company. So we have engaged stakeholders from across Nigeria and beyond to connect and dialogue on the way forward.
As a matter of fact, there’s no going back on the revival of Ajaokuta as Hon. Kazsure posited on the floor of the National Assembly few years ago. The two Chambers of the National Assembly have passed a resolution that the steel plant should be revived to full utilization.
We are not only hopeful that the President Buhari led administration will fulfill his promise on the project, we are also determined to set up appropriate channels through which Nigeria and Nigerians will enjoy the fruit of its natural endowment.