African Iron and Steel Association has decried Nigerian government’s inaction in the bilateral agreement with Russia to revamp the Ajaokuta Steel Complex.
The accord to revive the complex was reached during a meeting between Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia recently.
Shehu Shagari was President of Nigeria, while Leonid Brezhnev was holding sway in Russia when the two countries first started construction of the Ajaokuta steel rolling mill in 1979.
In October 2018, almost 40 years after, Nigeria returned to the bilateral agreement with Russia to resuscitate the now derelict steel factory.
The partnership was aimed at helping to get sections of the factory into production before the end of 2019, but the Coronavirus Disease crisis disrupted the arrangement.
Former secretary of AISA, Dr Sanusi Muhammed, described Nigeria’s effort in returning to Russia for a new agreement as a welcome development.
He spoke during a visit by the National Association of Material and Metallurgical Engineering Students led by Roseline Umah to the headquarters of AISA in Abuja on Sunday.
“During the visit of Buhari to Russia, he met Putin and they signed some agreements and it was aired all over the country. That gladdened our hearts. Unfortunately, COVID-19 came in and the efforts for the Russians to come and see what’s left of Ajaokuta and how they could move it forward had to be postponed.
“The minister of mines and steel development mentioned the suspension of international flights due to COVID-19 that the Russians could not come into Nigeria again, but that immediately the window for flights landing and taking off in Nigeria is opened, the Russians will come to Nigeria and they will start off,” he noted.
Muhammed expressed dismay that even as the window for flight operations had been opened for over one year, the Russians had not been seen.
“According to the initial agreement, the Russian government, through its financial institutions, was going to fund Ajaokuta with $450m. Afrexim Bank, established by African countries to help develop the continent promised pumping in $1bn.
“So, a total of $1.45bn was there, and we were very happy to hear that, though these figures were mentioned before the technical board of Ajaokuta Steel Company,” he added.
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.