29 November 2020 By James Itodo
The Chairman, Senate committee on Solid Minerals , Mines and Steel Development , Senator Tanko Almakura says the multi million dollars Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Project which has been under construction for close to 40 years, may end up a mirage if N3billion is not provided for reactivation of the 21 plants next year .
Senator Almakura who stated this while fielding questions from newsmen after the defence of his committee’s 2021 budget before the appropriation committee in the Senate also lamented that Staff of the Iron and Steel Complex working in Mining Cadastral Office might not receive their monthly salaries from January next year as the World Bank responsible for that had already informed the country of its pulling out of the gesture from January 2021.
According to him the N3billion required in facilitating the engagement of experts from Russia for reactivation of the 21 plants in the Iron and Steel Complex , is not included in the 2021 budget earmarked for the Ministry of Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals development.
He said he had made presentation to that effect to the Senate Committee on Appropriation during presentation of the 2021 budget estimates of the Ministry .
Senator Almakura explained that the remarks made by the Chairman Senate Committee on appropriation, Senator Jibrin Barau for provision of the money in the final report on the 2021 budget, was not assuring enough .
” The N3billion is very necessary to be provided for in saving the Iron and Steel Project from total comatose “, he said .
He added that completion of the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Project would serve as a catalyst for diversification of the Nation’s economy which is one of the key policies of the President Muhamnadu Buhari led Government .
On staff who might not receive their salaries from next year January, Senator Almakura explained that they are contract staff working at the Mining Cadastral office of the Complex whose monthly salaries had been paid in the past years from interventions from the world Bank which had notified the country that it will stop that gesture after December this year .
He said though diversification of the Nation’s economy is a necessity at this time but paucity of funds remains the stumbling block in acceding to such demands since the 2021 N13.08 trillion budget was projected on expected revenues and not monies already warehoused somewhere.