Paschal Emeka, Abuja
The Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Mining and Steel Development Hon. Ibrahim Ali restated the pivotal place of the steel industry in the overall development and industrialization of the country and maintained that Nigeria must be proactive to revive the mines and steel sector of the economy.
Hon. Ali made the assertion during the 2023 budget defense by the agencies under the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, on Wednesday at the National Assembly complex, Abuja.
To this end, some members of the committee raised some key questions on how long Nigeria will continue to play around her industrialization.
They also question the rationale behind the Ajaokuta Steel Company taking care of the welfare of the Federal Fire Service and other individuals not captured in the IPPIS with some getting up to N500, 000 for doing nothing.
“Some people are even earning more than us, you have people collecting five hundred for doing nothing in Ajaokuta, and you have over two hundred and twenty security staff who are not on IPPIS, where are you getting this money because I don’t think this Committee approved that kind of Expenditure; we want to know”
They also believed there is a lot of international conspiracy against the revitalization of Ajaokuta Steel Company which according to them stakeholders did not have the will to address.
In his response, the Sole Administrator of the Ajaokuta Steel Company, Mr. Sumaila Abdul-Akaba says the amount spent on personnel for security and maintenance of equipment is justifiable.
The Sole administrator made this known while presenting the performance of the 2022 budget and defense of the 2023 budget of the Company before the Committee.
Mr. Abdul-Kaaba disclosed that before the engagement of the security personnel, equipment worth billions of naira was stolen from the facility.
According to him, the amount utilized for the payment of some staff who are not in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System can be justified owing to the services they offer.
“Anytime you look at the personnel cost, most of the question people ask is: why are you keeping this personnel? Ajaokuta investment is within six billion to eight billion dollars and if you look at the amount we are spending to keep the plants, I don’t think that is too much.
“Aside from that, one of the basic things we should go to later if I finish the details of this performance is the security issues. We have spent a lot of money also on security. As of today, we have over two hundred and twenty security guards that are officially not on the payroll of IPPIS.”
The sole administrator also said the company engaged the Federal Fire Service personnel, military officers, and operatives of the Department of State Services, which the company caters to for their welfare.
Mr. Abdul-Akaba called for the removal of bureaucracies for the Company to commence immediately.
“If the Ajaokuta project is initiated and completed, the fund won’t be a problem but one of the problems is bureaucracy.”
He maintained that Nigeria is not doing enough to utilize the Ajaokuta Steel to change the fortunes of the country.
Also, during the budget defense session by the Executive Director of the National Metallurgical Development Centre, Jos Plateau state, Professor Linus Asuquo said the sum of N718. 3 million is needed as seven projects have been earmarked for execution.
Professor Asuquo solicited more funds to address some shortfalls, outsource services, and out its key objective of research and development.
In a related development, the Sole Administrator of the National Iron Ore Mining Company Limited, Itakpe, Mr. Augustus Nkechika decried the poor allocation to the company.