From Grace Obike, Abuja
Experts in in the metal and mining sector have called for inclusion in the revival of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
The experts who are members of the Nigerian Institution of Metallurgical, Mining and Materials Engineers (NIMMME) said some of its members have worked in the sector for over 40 years and can assist in auditing Ajaokuta.
Its National Chairman, Engr. Ayo Adeyemo, said everyone needed to be brought together, both the academia, industry and government, with political will for Ajaokuta to start.
He said there are so many Nigerians qualified to handle the steel plant.
Engr. Adeyemo spoke in Abuja during an interview with The Nation, stating that part of what the present government is trying to do is make Nigerians believe in themselves with the Executive Order 5.
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He said: “In the aspect of Ajaokuta, professionals need to be involved in its revival, NIMMME is a group of well experienced professionals; we have professors of over 20 years amongst us; some have worked for over 40 years, these are people that need to be taken to Ajaokuta for technical audit.
“The government should pass through an institution like the NIMMME, the ones they have done in times past has brought a lot of confusion. They have called so many foreigners to come in. Even in the life of a man, at a point you do critical self assessment to discover where you have gone wrong; you cannot continue to rely on foreigners to develop your nation.
“We are only deceiving ourselves when we say there is no Nigerian that can run Ajaokuta and if our government does not believe in its professionals, it is a failure on its part.
“I think everyone needs to be brought together, both the academia, industry and government. Their needs to be political will for Ajaokuta to start, for now their is none, I must be frank, their is an over reliance on foreigners, you see we have all it takes for this country to be great in Nigeria, you don’t expect someone from outside to come and develop your economy, its not possible, we’ve tried it, what is our faith? If we are serious as a nation, now is the time to bring together all our human resources, a foreigner is just here to make money so I think that the Federal Government should rely more on Nigerians.”
“Their are so many wrong information that we are fed with, like for instance, someone will come and tell us that the coal in Nigeria is not cooking but we professionals know that their is a way you can blend coal, part of the component of steel making is cooking coal but they will tell you it is not available in Nigeria but even if it is not available, their is a way you will blend your coal to make it cook.
“I think part of what this present government is trying to do is for us to believe in ourselves with the executive order no5, we need to believe in ourselves, if we dont, then we are finished as a nation. We have so many professors of extractive metallurgy some have their own companies and are doing well, have they given the work to Nigerians and they failed? Have they given any study of Ajaokuta to the Nigerian Society of Engineers or NIMMME and they failed?”
For Nigeria to fully benefit from the mining sector, he added, “In this sector, the first thing is the availability of geo-science data, their is no investor that will come to Nigeria to start digging to know the extent of our minerals reserve, the average investor is looking for a place with proven reserve, the geo-science data will show the dept of the minerals, to know if they can fund underground or open cast method of mining but in a situation where you don’t have data, all you hear is that their are so and so amount of estimated mineral deposit but the question is, are they commercially viable? The more data you have, the more confidence you succeed in building.
“As at last year and year before, their was no single record of gold leaving the country yet we have been producing gold, if you go around the fields you will see thousands of people panning for gold, we are not saying that illegal miners should be deprived but things must be done in the right way, if you are saying that illegal miners should be allowed because they are looking for their daily bread, you are as well saying an armed robber, kidnapper or bandit should be allowed because they are equally looking for a way of living.
“We need to develop our own individual technology, no one is coming to develop it for us, we always talk of foreign professionals and investors like Australians but go and ask how many Australian companies we have in this country, when you hear the sayings that one will have to drill deep to discover minerals, it is because in Australia minerals are so deep down compared to ours, if you export that procedure to us, you are complicating our problems, technology must be adapted.”