President Muhammadu Buhari says the Ajaokuta Steel Complex will generate 1.6 billion dollars annually and provide 500,000 estimated jobs for Nigerian youths.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Presidential spokesperson in a statement, said that Buhari said this at the Palace of the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, which he also inaugurated as part of his one-day state visit in Okene, Kogi on Thursday.
Shehu said that the President also spoke of the determination of his administration to position Kogi as an industrial hub as well as a solid mineral power base.
The president explained how the Federal Government achieved the resolution of all legal entanglements that had bogged down the progress of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex.
According to him, the project stands to benefit the people of the state immensely.
“No other single project holds the key to unlocking this vast potential as much as the Ajaokuta Steel Complex which we inherited as a long moribund complex strangulating under a tangle of local and international commercial disputes.
“I am glad to report that as we begin to round off in office, we can genuinely say that our administration has rescued Ajaokuta from all legal disabilities.
”It is now ready for concessioning to a private investor with the right profiles to put it to work for Nigeria in general and Kogi in particular.
”The process has cost this Federal Government over 400 million dollars so far, but I consider it money well spent as we move closer to achieving our objective of transforming Kogi State into Nigeria’s iron and steel powerhouse,” he said.
Buhari added: “The benefits of getting Ajaokuta Steel Complex working again are numerous. It would provide over 500,000 estimated jobs and more than $1.6 billion in annual income to the Nigerian economy.
”Nigerians can rest assured that I remain committed to seeing this process to a logical conclusion before the end of my tenure in office.”
The president said that Kogi also stood to benefit in diverse ways when the 614 km (384 mile) AKK gas pipeline which traversed the state commence operations in 2023.
He also affirmed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had delivered on the promises to Nigerians at all levels.
He said Gov. Yahaya Bello had performed creditably in his two terms as governor of the state.
“We are an administration that prides ourselves in the fulfillment of our electoral promises to the Nigerian people, at both national and sub-national levels.
”This is why I am glad that we have an impressive array of legacy projects through your own state government as proof of our stewardship of Kogi.
“The APC Administration has indelible footprints in Kogi,” he said.
The president cited some of the projects executed by the federal government in the state to include; the Itakpe to Okene bypass, the Obajana to Kabba concrete road and the Itakpe to Warri railway service, among others.
The Obajana – Kabba Concrete Road was built by Dangote Industries Limited under ‘roads for taxes initiate’ (Executive Order 7).
“I am very pleased to be here today to commission several projects executed by the administration of His Excellency, Gov. Yahaya Bello,” he said.
He commended the governor for rising up to the occasion in many sectors especially security.
”We are proud of him and I encourage the people of Kogi State to continue to support him and his team as they are working hard to ensure peace, security and development in the state.”
Projects inaugurated by the president included, the Reference Hospital Okene, which boast of the first ever hyperbaric treatment chamber in Nigeria and the fleet of ambulances attached to
it and the new Ohinoyi’s Palace at Okene.
Others were the Ganaja Junction Flyover and interchange at Lokoja; the GYB Model Science Secondary School, Adankolo, Lokoja; the Muhammadu Buhari Square (Civic Centre) at Lokoja; and a fleet of high – tech security vehicles to combat crimes and criminalities.
Earlier in his welcome address, Gov. Yahaya Bello thanked the president for showing leadership and for the various programmes and interventions which had positively impacted on the state and its people.
These, the governor said, included the Itakpe – Warri Rail Line which he noted, had brought relief to travellers and business owners in the state.
Bello informed Buhari that the projects inaugurated were in response to his commitment to serve.
He stated that since his swearing – in on Jan. 27, 2016, his administration constituted a multi-sectoral committee that went round the nooks and crannies of the State, identifying the needs of the people.
“This document has been our guide,” he stated.
While acknowledging the commitment of Buhari toward the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, the governor thanked the president for his unrelenting interest in the project.
Bello also stated that his administration had cordial relationship with the traditional institution in the state, stating that the new Ohinoyi’s Palace being commissioned by President Buhari was a testimony to this.
Earlier, the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Dr Ibrahim Ado, represented by the Ohi of Okengwe, Alhaji Mohammed Anage, on behalf of the traditional rulers of the Central Senatorial Zone of the State, thanked Buhari for his support to Bello’s administration.
He also commended the president for being the first sitting President of Nigeria to visit Kogi on a working visit. (NAN)