The umbrella body responsible for the affairs of mines workers in Nigeria, the Nigerian Union of Mines Workers (NUMW) has called for the resignation or outright sack of the Governor of the Central Bank (CBN) of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele over what it described as the inability of the apex financial institution to articulate policy measure that will lead to the rejuvenation of the moribund Federal-Government owned Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASCO), adding that government’s disposition to selling ASCO, a decision supported by the CBN, reflects the intellectual poverty of the country’s apex financial institution.
It could be recall that while briefing the Nigerian delegation at the end of the International Monetary Fund/World Bank Group meetings in Bali, Indonesia, recently, Emefiele said Ajaokuta Steel Company and other national assets will be sold to service the 2018 deficit budget.
While describing ASCO as the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization which must be nurtured and prioritized as an emblem of National Pride, the National President of the Mining Union, Comr. Hamza Mohammed called on government to ensure that ASCO remains under domestic ownership and control, adding that countries which developed their indigenous steel sectors have become better for it.
He tasked Emefiele and the Minister of Finance to articulate a policy direction for the funds needed to resuscitate ASCO, he called on the Senate to intervene by ensuring that the nations institutions in the finance sector work toward articulating a poly measure to address the problem.
“The Nigerian Union of Miens Workers entirely kicks against any form of sale or transfer of ownership of ASCO to foreign bodies or organizations as it is not the best for the development of Nigeria’s industrial sector,” he said.
Hamza who commended the Nigeria Metallurgical Society (NMS) and other professional bodies in the sector for condemning the idea of selling ASCO, called on the federal government to urgent articulate policy measures for the utilization of ASCO in the industrialization of Nigeria, adding that unless Nigeria develops her industrial sectors, it will not be able to play big in the committee of nations.
Hamza noted that it is not a good policy proposal to say that ASCO should be sold for the purpose of financing the 2018 budget, adding that only a mindless government will sell such a highly strategic institution to finance a year’s budget.
While stating that “the industrialization of ASCO, National Iron Ore mining Company (NIOMCO), Delta Steel Company (DSC) and the development of Nigeria’s iron and steel sector have never been negotiable and is still not negotiable, and will never be negotiable,” Hamza warned that the National Executive Council of the Mining Union will soon convene to deliberate on the necessity of embarking on a nationwide strike action if government does not heed the clarion call to shelve plans of selling the steel complex.
Hamza said: “It is socially, industrially and economically injurious to Nigeria to transfer in any way the ownership and control of ASCO to any individual or corporate entity,” adding that the federal government must ensure that it retains one hundred percent ownership and control of the systems.
Hamza who explained that Nigeria’s current economic challenges are the result of the failure of various governments to utilize the country’s human and natural resources, adding that government must act beyond the rhetoric of saying that ASCO can create huge number of jobs. “We know that ASCO can create huge number of jobs and we know that government also knows that, what we want government to do is to resuscitate ASCO so that it will deliver the beautiful promises of the sector to Nigerians.”
“No country can join the rank of super powers unless it develops its steel sector. I expect that government knows that the development of a country’s steel sector is will ignite the development of all industrial sectors of the country’s economy,” he said, and explained that it is only when ASCO begins the production of liquid steel that Nigeria can become a manufacturer of steel products like motor vehicles, airplanes and various steel instruments that symbolize national power and glory.
Discussing the strategic nature of ASCO to the industrial development of Nigeria and the African continent, Hamza said: “The Mining union laments that government handles with levity the importance of ASCO,” saying that ASCO is reputed as the largest steel plant in Africa.
Discussing other advantages of resuscitating ASCO, Hamza noted that apart from being able to generate more than five hundred thousand direct and indirect jobs, ASCO has the ability to become a major revenue earner for the government while also improving the Nigerian economy, if resuscitated.
Recalling one of the campaign promises that thrilled the union during the electioneering campaign of General Muhammadu Buhari, Hamza said Gen Buhari has assured that the steel sector will be developed as a major revenue earner for the country. He therefore tasked the federal government to live up to expectation of Nigerians in the steel sector saying that if ASCO is sold, it will augur well for the industrial development of Nigeria.
While calling on government to stop the exportation of unprocessed solid minerals, Hamza stressed the need to ensure value addition to solid minerals before they are exported to other countries, adding that a lot of jobs will be created for Nigerians if government effectively outlaws the export of processed solid minerals.
While he lamented that Nigeria suffers huge revenue losses when businessmen foreigners mine and export undeveloped solid minerals, he said government must exercise the strong will requisite for the resuscitation of ASCO, stating that if ASCO was resuscitated, steel raw materials will be mines and used to feed the production needs of the integrated steel complex.
“It is only when Ajaokuta Steel Company is resuscitated, the iron ore is mined in Itakpe would be easy moved to ASCO for onward use in the production of steel,” he said.
While he specifically noted that the potentials of the Nigerian steel industry have dastardly abused by foreign nationals, notably Indians, who were entrusted with the task of managing it, he tasked the Buhari administration to activate its institutions to develop a framework for the urgent activation of Ajaokuta Steel Company, Delta Steel Company and the National iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe, stating that apart from these, government should stair up the interest of the organized private sector to participate in the development of the country’s steel sector.