The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development says it is making effort to curb incessant dumping of substandard steel and other metals in Nigeria.Dr. Abdulkadir Mua’azu, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry made this known at the second Nigeria Metallurgical Industry Stakeholders Forum (MISF) in Asaba.
The theme of the forum was, “Development of Nigeria’s Metal Sector – A Panacea for National Development and Imperative for Economic Diversification”.
Mua’azu, who was represented by Mr Zachius Atte, the Director, Reform Coordination and Service Improvement, noted that the ministry is collaborating with the Nigeria Customs Service toward curbing incessant dumping of substandard steel from abroad in Nigeria, as well as export of banned scrap metals.
He said that the ministry had also articulated some strategies and activities for the development of the metallurgical sector with a view to taking it to the next level.
Mua’azu said some of the strategies included recovery and re-operationalisation of Ajaokuta Steel Company, Aluminum Smelting Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) And NIOMCO.
The permanent secretary said that the ministry would also build the confidence of private metallurgical plants operators in the country, among others.
He said that the ministry would ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari assent to the Nigerian Metallurgical Industry Bill when passed by the National Assembly.
He urged stakeholders at the forum to bring their experiences to bear as well as their natural comparative advantage toward rebuilding the sector.
Mr. Victor Ihebinike, the Director, Metallurgical Inspectorate and Raw Materials Development, said that the Nigeria metal sector was lagging behind other countries due to failure to reposition it.
Ihebinike said that failure to reposition the country’s metal sector in the past, made other countries that started metallurgical sector the same time with Nigeria to make tremendous progress.
He said that South Korea, India, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt among others had been able to lift their economy from starvation into industrialised nations through consistent commitment and doggedness in pursuant of their objectives.
“We are self-centered and lack commitment; we visited some of the countries mentioned above to learn from them, but we are still operating in our old ways,” he said.
The director said that political will should not be left out in order to move the sector forward.
Quoting official government data, he said that the Nigerian economy with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 3.75.77 billion dollars was unarguably the largest in Africa, yet it spends about 3.3 billion on steel importation annually.
“Nigeria, which is Africa’s largest economy, has 30 steel manufacturers, but they can only produce 2.2 million tons a year using scraps and billets imported mainly from China,” he said.
He said the all-inclusive stakeholders forum organised by the ministry was to avail metal operators in the South-South and others, the opportunity to interface with the Federal Government to address all of these challenges.
A Professor of Geology at the University of Port Harcourt Akaha Tse
said that the strategy of the ministry to address the challenges of the sector was commendable, noting that it had taken steps to upgrade Geo-science data of minerals available in the country.
Tse said that the right policies should be put in place and vigorously pursued for the sector to take its rightful place.
The ministry has resolved to vigorously pursue the diversification of the economy through the development of Minerals and Metals sector of the Nigerian economy now more than ever.
The government also said it would assist private metal operators to synergise toward creating necessary linkages required for rapid development of the sector.
The forum is attended by metallurgical operators and professionals, chief executives, captains of industry, and the academia.