Reinvigoration of Nigeria’s steel sector is said to be one area the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan failed woefully. This is notwithstanding the huge benefits that the country would have derived from ensuring that the sector fully becomes effective and in full operations in areas of employment generation, saving of foreign exchange among, other benefits.
This failure is derived from the government’s inability to follow up on policies and agreements reached by it and operators of the sector on concessions or privatization, leaving the entire sector in near comatose.
Urging President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, ensure that Ajaokuta Steel Mill and other Rolling Mills in the country roar back to life, Comrade K. Kadiri, Secretary General of Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria, SEWUN and Vice President in the Joe Ajaero led Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, said the benefits of reviving these mills to Nigerians in terms of employment generation and conservation of foreign exchange, among others are immeasurable.
‘’The steel sector is one area the outgoing government fared so badly and this is so bad for a government that claimed employment generation was one of its cardinal points. The sector was almost abandoned. Fixing Ajaokuta and other rolling mills in the country would generate about 30,000 employments, save foreign exchange and above all justify the billions of naira invested in the mills which as at now are lying waste.
These are inspite of the concession agreement with Global Infrastructure of Nigeria; the Indian Company that took over after the failure of the American Company whose agreement was cancelled. Right now, nothing is happening in the place hence this urgent call on the in-coming government to do everything possible to roll it and all other Rolling Mills in the country back to life. This also goes for the other Rolling Mills as privatized – ‘guided privatization’ as it were. They were not concessioned or privatized to be closed down. They should be fully operational for Nigerians to draw full benefits – thousands of unemployed Nigerians should be given a chance therein to get jobs.’’
He averred further that the Comrade Joe Ajaero led NLC will not fold its arms to watch things remain as they are, saying ‘’we will not allow taxpayers billions of naira invested there go down the drain. We are capable and now fully prepared to put government on its toes; guide it on steps to take in reviving the sector and where necessary, enforce the sector’s re-invigoration for the good of all Nigerians’’.
He equally reassured workers and Nigerians that the present crisis in the NLC will not create any window for the government and other employers to undermine Nigerian workers. ‘’When issues of workers welfare is concerned, Labour will always emerge as one united body to tackle it, our internal crisis notwithstanding. You recall my President, Comrade Joe Ajaero informed Nigerians on workers’ day that a committee has been set up to draft a memorandum for the review of National minimum wage which is expiring this year. A soon as the committee comes up with its report, all the parties in Labour – Comrade Ayuba Wabba led group and our colleagues in Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, will all come together and battle as usual. Tussles in labour as we are facing is not new to us but I am assuring all and sundry that in no time we will come out of it a united, stronger and better focused Nigeria Labour Congress.’’