The senator representing Kogi central senatorial district, Ahmed Ogembe, on Monday on expressed disappointment over the refusal of president Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Ajaokuta Iron and steel bill.
The bill had recommended that $1b should be sourced from excess crude account to revitalize the moribund steel complex.
According to him, the reasons given by the president for rejecting the bill was not sufficient considering the importance of the Ajaokuta Iron and steel complex to the industrialization, economic growth and development of the country.
Ogembe said, “Few days ago, the minister of Transportation said the federal government need about $40b do interconnect Nigeria rail system and my position is that, we will not be needing anything close to that if we had invested in Ajaokuta Steel Company to produce steel needed for the rail tracks and coaches.
“The advantages of Ajaokuta steel complex cannot be overemphasized as it is capable of generating 3 million job opportunities for our army of unemployed youths including over 12 thousand engineers and generate foreign exchange for the country in excess of $4b thereby reducing pressure on Naira value.
“Some of the reasons the president gave in rejecting the bill which includes the need for him to consult with the national economic council since the excess crude account belongs to the federating units was not done but the president hastily rejected the bill. Again, I must say that the inability of the president to convoke a national economic council meeting where the Ajaokuta bill will be discussed cannot be said to be a legislative error and hence there was no need to reject the bill outrightly.
“The president also said $1b for Ajaokuta is not feasible and not the right strategy now considering the budget constraints and competing demands on the federal government. I beg to respectfully disagree with the president, on the 6th November 2017, the Guardian newspaper reported how the federal government spent $3b in search for oil in the north without result. $1b of the amount wasted on prospecting for oil in the north would fix Ajaokuta Steel Company especially now that the world is moving away from fossil energy and we are also talking about the diversification of our economic base”.
The senator, however, urged the president to reconsider his decision in line with national interest and the strategic economic importance of the steel complex to Nigeria.
It would be recalled that the issue of Ajaokuta steel has led to tango between the executive and the legislative arms of government with the executive rejecting most of the suggestions brought forward to resuscitate the company.