By Naomi Sharang/Kingsley Okoye
The Federal Government says it is partnering the Russian government to revive Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Minister of Mines and Solid Minerals Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed this at an interactive session with Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy in Abuja on Friday.
He further said that the main feature of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Russia next week is to discuss the reviving of the steel company.
According to the minister, the Russians have shown interest to help Nigeria revive Ajaokuta with their own money.
“They want to put Ajaokuta back and we are looking at different methods to engage them.
“Because it is almost completed, they bring in some money to finish what is there and operate it for a while; realise their investment, profit and transfer it back to Nigeria.
“I think this is the best path to revive Ajaokuta and I believe within the tenure of our time, we will achieve this,” Adegbite said.
The minister said that Ajaokuta Company was never vandalised contrary to reports but it was concessioned to a particular firm.
Adegbite, however, noted that invasion of the mining industry by foreign nationals was being encouraged by some state governments.
“A lot of effort is going on to check illegal mining in the country,” he said.
Chairman of the committee Sen. Tanko Almakura, said that efforts must be made structurally and legally to encourage states and local governments not to participate in illegal mining activities.
“If you look at the mining, it is in the exclusive list.
“There is the need for us to come together; the Senate, House of Representatives, ministry and stakeholders.
“Let’s get down and unbundle this to give every tier of government some level of participation without usurping the exclusive legislative right.
“We can have the concurrent with the exclusive running side by side,” Almakura said.
Almakura who is the immediate past governor of Nasarawa State urged the ministry to identify very important and lucrative solid minerals wherever they are in the country to help in diversifying the economy.
“Unless we take the approach that was used in the ministry of agriculture in diversification, we may not be in a position to fast track development and diversification in the solid mineral sector.
“With the support of the Senate, we can cause the Presidency to bring about a presidential committee dedicated to the different kinds of solid minerals varieties.
“They include limestone, tin, columbite etc to boost the economic development of the country,” the lawmaker said.