Abuja — The Federal Government and Russia, Tuesday, agreed to partner in resuscitating the comatose multi-billion Dollar Ajaokuta Steel Company.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Press and Public Relation Unit of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, where the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, during a courtesy visit of the Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Alexey Shebarshir, at the Ministry's headquarters in Abuja.
Adegbite maintained that the Federal Government remains committed to diversify the economy through the solid minerals and mining sector, hence the move to revitalize Ajaokuta Steel Company to produce optimally, which the Buhari-led administration wants to achieve.
He said: "The Federal Government is working round the clock to ensure that some sections of the company will start production before the end of the year. The Federal Government is ready to welcome any collaboration aimed at revitalising the steel industry to operate in full capacity.
"We have plans already on ground to engage relevant companies on meaningful discussions with a view to employ strategic approaches on the best ways to reinvigorate Ajaokuta Steel Company into full production so as to achieve the vision of making it the hub of industrialization not only to Nigeria but Africa at large.
"As the Federal Government strives to diversify the economy through mining and steel sector, the revitalization of Ajaokuta Steel Company to produce optimally is of utmost concern to the present administration."
However, the minister explained that, "The Federal Government did not deliberately abandon Ajaokuta Steel Company, but owing to some legal encumbrances, the company has not been producing optimally."
He further disclosed that, "The government has been expending huge amount of money to ensure that the assets at the company are not vandalized."
Earlier, the Russian envoy, Alexey Shebarshir, said his country is ready to partner with Nigeria in resuscitating Ajaokuta Steel Company especially in the areas of rebuilding infrastructure and overhauling of the plant.
Shebarshir also called on the Federal Government to protect investors who are interested in turning around the company for maximum production.
Also speaking was the Russian Deputy Head of Mission, Trade and Economic Affairs, Valery Shaposhnikov, revealed that his country had carried out on the spot analysis of challenges militating against smooth operation of Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Shaposhnikov emphasized the need for more engagements his country and Nigeria including stakeholders in the steel industry so as to be better informed and fashion out the best ways to tackle issues hindering smooth operation of the company.
He also added that his country's readiness from the inception of the company was to harness the potential of the steel subsector and the company by providing the necessary equipment for the industrialization of Nigeria.