The Minister of Steel Development, Shuaibu Audu, revealed that the Federal Government is set to initiate the production of military hardware at the long-dormant Ajaokuta Steel Mill. In an interview with Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday, Audu conveyed that he has been collaborating closely with counterparts in the Ministries of Defence and Works to formulate comprehensive plans for the revival of the steel plant, aiming not only to manufacture iron rods but also to establish military hardware capabilities.
“In addition to restarting the light steel mill, we want to produce military hardware in Ajaokuta Steel,” affirmed Audu. He highlighted his concerted efforts with the Minister of Defence, Alhaji Badaru, and the Minister of Works, Senator Umahi, to synchronize activities for iron rod production and the development of military hardware capabilities at Ajaokuta. The envisioned military hardware encompasses various items such as helmets, bullets, vests, tank pads, rifles, and ammunitions.
While expressing the commitment of the current administration to reinvigorate the light steel mill within the steel complex, the minister acknowledged that the project’s estimated cost for the entire complex revitalization ranged from two to five billion dollars, with the light steel mill section alone requiring about N35 billion. President Bola Tinubu granted approval for local fundraising efforts to revive the light steel mill section, and the anticipated N35 billion investment is anticipated to yield 50,000 tons of iron rods initially, with the potential to scale up production to 400,000 tons.
Audu attributed the prolonged inactivity of the Ajaokuta Steel Mill, which has spanned over 40 years, to a lack of political will. He emphasized that the establishment of a Steel Ministry by the current administration marks a historic move, recognizing the pivotal role it plays in the industrial revolution. Reflecting on past challenges, Audu mentioned concessions where inadequately skilled entities were entrusted with the steel mill, leading to setbacks.
“This is the first time in our 63-year history since independence that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has created a Steel Ministry,” Audu noted. He underscored the significance of political will and outlined past issues, including terminated concessions such as the one with Global Steel, necessitating a payment of about $496 million by the Nigerian government. As the government takes strides to revitalize Ajaokuta Steel Mill, Audu’s vision encompasses not only economic revival but also a strategic capability in producing essential military hardware domestically.