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2022 budget will frustrate Ajaokuta Steel’s development, says Al-Makura

Chairman, Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines and Metallurgy, Tanko Al- Makura, yesterday said the 2022 budget would frustrate the development of the Ajaokuta Steel plant and solid minerals development. Speaking to journalists after presenting the report of his committee to the Committee on Appropriations, the former Nasarawa State governor said his position was informed by the need for the Federal Government to allocate special funds to the sector in the 2022 budget. He said: “We found that the much-desired growth in this sector may not be easily achievable without very special allocation to this ministry ( Mines and Steel Development ister of Mines and Steel Development).”

According to him, during the budget defence of the ministry and agencies under his committee, they discovered a repetition of most of the items provided in the 2021 budget. According to him, it is like stereotyping of budget for solid minerals development. The lawmaker said if Nigeria truly desired economic development and diversification, especially in the solid minerals sector in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration policy, there must be some initiative in ensuring that the budget was pragmatic. Al-Makura said, “What we observed is that a lot of things that were provided for last year appeared to have come again this year. There appears to be some kind of stereotyping of the budget and if we really consider the need for economic growth and diversification which is very much sought for, there has to be some initiative in ensuring that the budget is a pragmatic budget.

“The President considers solid minerals among the sectors that will drive the process of diversification but given the paltry allocation to the ministry, such desired expectations may not be easily met.” He appealed to the committee to consider special funding to the ministry, warning that anything short of improved funding would hamper the ministry from realising its set goals, especially as it concerns Ajaokuta Steel Company. He lamented that for the past two years when the initiative was put forward to reactivate the company, there has not been any meaningful allocation to the Kogi State-based firm. The ex-governor said, “With that, the much expected takeoff or reactivation of the company might not be made, except where there is a special fund. I would like to request the chairman to look passionately into this request.

“There is great hope for the solid mineral industry to grow. In the budget we presented today, the framework for effective growth is there, what is lacking is the funding, because there is so much talk about economic growth and diversification, which the solid mineral sector is supposed to drive among other sectors like agriculture, power.

“This may not be realised if certain special consideration is not made to this ministry to drive the process. Not only the solid mineral, which has the capacity to create wealth across the country because given the natural endowment, every state has in this country.

There is no state that does not have one kind of solid mineral or another. “So, the government should take into consideration the widespread presence of these minerals across the States and the funding should be in tandem with this multiplicity of opportunities across the states.”

 

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