President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday told investors not to panic as his government was fervently working to bring the insecurity the Boko Haram sect has plunged the country into under control.
"Reports from around the world indicate an unacceptable manifestation of insecurity largely orchestrated by individuals who have no love for peace and harmony among members of humanity. In this regard, we will continue to collaborate with our friends and allies to bring this menace of insecurity to an end," he stated.
The president also noted that in its effort to fast-track the industrialisation of the country, the federal government has concluded plans to unveil its Industrial Revolution Plan (IRP) which is intended to develop the ecosystem and make the country self-sufficient by harnessing the potential of the steel sector as the hub of infrastructure development.
Jonathan spoke at the commissioning of the multi-million-naira state-of-the-art five-stand tandem cold-rolled steel plant by WEMPCO Steel Mill Company Limited located on Kilometer 8, Magboro, Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
He said, "We are committed to improving our investment climate by providing and upgrading necessary infrastructure such as power, roads and rail. Our aim is to keep attracting foreign and local direct investment into key sectors of the economy that will create jobs, stimulate private sector growth, continuous technology transfer and, ultimately, economic growth and wealth for Nigerians and Nigeria.
"Government will continue to encourage investors and investments in this and other sectors for the good of our country and her great people. We shall continue to support genuine investors that show interest in investing in Nigeria. We expect investors to reciprocate this gesture by showing greater dedication as well as transparency in their investment operations."
On the steel sector, the president said government has recorded lots of achievements by raising the number of steel rolling mills to 15, from an abysmal near-zero before the advent of the incumbent administration.
From a current figure of 3 million tonnes of liquid steel being produced, the government intends to increase the number to 12 million in 2020, Jonathan said. He added that self-sufficiency in steel production will open downstream sector opportunities for many artisans and those that are currently unemployed but have the requisite skills to put the resources to use.
He commended the company for demonstrating that it has confidence in the government by locating the cold steel plant on a 700,000-hectare land in Ogun State, thus contributing to the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), promoting job creation and acquisition of job skills, among others.
Commending the Ogun State government for giant strides in infrastructure development, Jonathan said Governor Ibikunle Amosun has done tremendously well by making the environment conducive for investors and bringing obvious result such as employment generation and increased internally generated revenue to bear on the people of the state.
He further stated: "Ladies and gentlemen, the steel sector offers immense economic opportunities for our country, which we have not fully exploited. This administration, however, aims to reposition this industry. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in conjunction with other MDAs, has developed an Industrial Revolution Plan, which has identified the iron and steel industry as a focal sector. This plan aims to develop the complete ecosystem of this sub-sector.
"In addition, this administration has approved the Minerals and Metals Development Road Map, which was recently presented to the general public stipulating time-bound targets for the minerals and metals sector. This document articulates the strategies to be adopted to ensure the accomplishment of the set objectives of increasing steel production in Nigeria, which is targeted at 3 million tonnes of liquid steel production by the end of this year and progressively increase to 12 million tonnes of liquid steel by the year 2020.
"I would like to assure existing and prospective investors of government support as we collectively strive for self-sufficiency in local steel production. I strongly believe that self-sufficiency will open major downstream sector activities with the attendant massive job opportunities and economic empowerment for our engineers, technicians, artisans and fabricators alike."
For his part, Governor Amosun said, within four years of his first tenure, the IGR of the state rose from a paltry N700 million to about N4 billion this year, adding that the state has now been re-positioned as one with the largest industrial base in the country.
The group managing director of WEMPCO Group, Mr Lewis Tung, who noted that the steel sector is the backbone for infrastructural development in the country, said it is equally crucial and fundamental to any development as well.