The Ajaokuta Steel Project: Arise O’ Compatriots! – Lanre @Basamta

Published:20 Dec, 2012

The Ajaokuta Steel Project: Arise O’ Compatriots! – Lanre @Basamta

 

Fellow Nigerians, give no more sleep to your eyes, what really do you have to sleep on?

Able countrymen, allow your lips smile no longer, for our strength and joy is being robbed of us

***

From time immemorial, things have been bad in this nation

From when I could recite the national anthem, to this moment of typing this excruciating missive, Nigeria had never seem to work well: it almost always appears like a cardiac patient being treated like a panel beater

***

But alas!

Alas my gentle fears have suddenly skyrocketed.

My subtle worries has metastasized into a monstrous monster that’s threatens every hope, dreams and aspirations of mine

***

On Saturday, I was offered the chance to visit the decrypt site popularly known as the Ajaokuta Steel Company

It was supposed to be a wonderful day out where I was to behold amazing architecture, beautiful landscape and an unrivalled view atop the river Niger

But what I saw was the stuff of nightmares

What I witnessed was a nation gone bankrupt; a country who knows the way out of obscurity but would forever refrain from light and illumination

***

From the dereletic rail lines to the heavily underutilized chlorination room, Ajaokuta Steel Company emblazoned Nigeria’s failure at anything meaningful

This was supposed to be a 7billion dollars project that would transform Nigeria in general and even the whole of Africa

Unfortunately, it turned out the biggest waste of money, minds and men on the surface of the earth

The Steel Company was supposed to directly employ 30,000 persons, and fall out companies was supposed to recruit another 120,000 workforce

The big idea was for Ajaokuta Steel Company to drive industrialization. To help Nigeria aspire to the exalted corps of craft and car builders

The Steel Company would have made us satisfy our national quest for steel in construction, machine crafting and creation, and the general mechanization of our industries, agriculture and the society in general

***

But as I walked on the bushy lawns and dusty streets of the Mill,

As I snapped sorrowful pictures and beheld the creaking pillars and post,

As I gazed upon unused smelting plants, unfurnished airports, and dead and decaying sea port/shorelines, I wept within

I wept for the vast amounts spent and the little or no rewards gained

I wept for the many youths that could have been employed here, but who are jobless on many streets or have decided to engage in crimes, kidnapping and the likes to make ends meet

I wept for the fools that grinded this lofty project to a halt, and the crook who bettered their pocket at the expense of the nation at large

I wept for the dumb foreign accounts their loots was siphoned to, the many present workers who resume to a noiseless factory and return home to a joyless family

I wept profusely for a nation that cannot feel, a people that cannot think and a leadership that is helpless blind and visionless on how to make this work again

***

The real trouble is Ajaokuta steel has been there for almost 34years, doing nothing, contributing nothing and achieving nothing

The vast majority of the Mill has not been used for a day, and those which was used were sparsely or scarcely used

The biggest parts of the steel plants will work with minimal inputs or investments, while a critical part of it would require major tech upgrades and follow up training

***

Now the question is: how did the Obasanjo administration fail to spot this and stem the tide from its inception in 1999?

For if Ajaokuta Steel Company has been revived then, it would have spared the nation a further deprecation of 13years on the plant as well as input and output from staffs, machine and quality foreign exchange revenue for the government and people of Nigeria

How did the Yar’ Adua regime as well as the Jonathan administration miss the greatest opportunity for national change, job creation and industrialization in the middle belt?

How is it that we have had almost 10 Ministers of Power and Steel or Mines and Power with little or no input to the ongoing decay of the Ajaokuta Steel Company?

What have these Ministers being doing?

Against what metric have their tenures being adjudged?

How on earth did guys like Liyel Imoke, and other ex minister survive with their reputation intact?

How were they able to secure other public jobs without the nation or their people holding them accounting for their inability to even attempt a reasonable turnaround of Ajaokuta Steel Company?

***

Well, left to these leaders, they care not!

They care not if Ajaokuta steel project works or if regular saloon cars sell for 10million naira

These our leaders care less about the rising cost of steel or the shameless importation of same from countries like ivory Coast and Congo-when Nigeria has the capacity to out-produce both nations

Our leaders care not about the many mouths that the Ajaokuta project can feed, many souls the working project can house and how well that singular project can drive a drastic change in Nigeria

***

Well if they won’t, then we should MAKE them!

If they wouldn’t wake up to their responsibilities, then we should deprive their eyes of sleep

If they would continue to play the ignorance card, and would rather remain irresponsible with strategic project that would affect the mass of our people, then we should not allow them rest!

We should block their ears with our cry, puncture their peace with our wails, and never allow them any breathing space but that which screams for redemption

***

We must shout even louder, scream even madder and let it be known in their heavily-secured, highly fenced enclaves that ‘Enough is enough; The Ajaokuta Steel Project must work’

But not just this project, but also many more that would change the lives of our people.

The East-West Road, The new River Niger Bridge, a newly channeled and functional national railway, safer and saner roads, competent PHCN, regular power supply, revamped education, a dignified and re-mechanized agro industry etc

We should force these leaders to earn their lofty titles and ungodly allowances

We must MAKE them accountable in ways I can’t even begin to enumerate

***

Let the city lecturers hear and tell the village witches: let the school children hear and inform the homeless hoodlums (agberos)

Leaders derive their power and legitimacy only from the people

They may share the money as if it is their grandfathers own, or close down the 3rd mainland bridge (like President Jonathan allegedly did on Saturday) as if it was their uncle’s lawn,

But this country doesn’t belong to them alone

This nation belongs to us all, and they are deemed leaders and accorded whatever honors because we delegated our rights to them

***

So therefore, if we arise today…

If we arise today-on the streets, in the marketplace, in beer parlor, on the stadium stand, in the viewing centers, in our bedrooms, boardrooms or even our classrooms

If we arise on the internet and even in the spirit realms (using prayers, fasting, witchcraft, wizardry and other voodoo where applicable)

If we arise and say no to this incompetence; if we arise and demand more from these narcissistic ‘kleptocrats’

Then just maybe,

***

Just maybe the Ajaokuta Steel project that was dreamt 34year ago might become a reality after a whole generation has been lost

Just maybe these leaders can be shoved out of their reverie and awaken to the indescribable sufferings of their people

Just maybe the devil in them would be diluted and they would grow a conscience

Just maybe they would steal less, care more and think about how to preserve this nation for the next generation

Just maybe these tears welled up in me wouldn’t be for naught,

Just maybe this typing late into the darkest night (at 2am) would touch a heart and make a difference,

Just maybe our online campaigns and our offline crusade would yield some dividends

Just maybe this nation would not be confined to the dustbins of history as we seem to be heading

Just maybe one more child would have access to better quality education and one more pregnant woman would be subtracted from the ever increasing maternal mortality percentage

Just maybe a graduating youth would find jobs easier to come by, and our aged would find the conform of retirement homes to live in their twilight years

Just maybe primary healthcare and universal primary education would be available and affordable to all

Just maybe the change we have always dreamt but never seen will one day arrive

Just maybe another young Nigerian would never have to write this melancholic and depressing article again about Ajaokuta Steel project or Nigeria another 34years from now

***

My ink stands dried on this, I can only wait and hope that the revolution commences

***

 

 

 

P.S Have got some remarkable shots of the Ajaokuta Steel Company that I snapped with my Smartphone, if you care for any, just send the request to my twitter handle @basamta. Thanks

 

Lanre Basamta

basamta@yahoo.com

www.facebook.com/basamta

www.twitter.com/basamta

  • Gafar Titilope

    Many of such spoted around the nation. The largest paer mill in Africa, Iwopin Paper Mill inn Ogun state also bear the same faith, Aluminium Smelting company of Nigeria, same srory.
    It only takes a destined person, with determined mind to change things in this country.
    @titigafar

  • andy

    You have said it all. You have to visit ASCL to be able to understand what the writer has written. No amount of immagination will be able to give anyone an insight into what the government wasted and is still wasting in Ajaokuta. I joined the company in 2007 as a trainee Engr with the TPP/TBS department by the Indians. If you truely care about this country, then, once you move round the company, the next thing you do will be to weep.I wept back then and whoever sees now will still do same. Government officials and ministers continue to visit ASCL one after the other, some even weep(wether it is a sincere one only God knows) when they see the level of waste, yet, when they go back nothing happen. It is a pity.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

EFCC rearraigns Dasuki, five others for diversion of funds.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday re-arraigned, retired Col. Sambo Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser (NSA) and five others, for alleged diversion, and criminal breach of trust at an FCT High Court. The others were Bashir Yuguda, Shuaibu Salisu, a former Director of Finance, Office of the NSA, Dalhatu Investment Ltd., Sagir Attahiru and Attahiru Bafarawa, a former governor of Sokoto State. They were re-arraigned on a 22-count charge before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, and they pleaded not guilty...

FG to investigate why production of Big Brother Nigeria is in South Africa.

The federal government has directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the reported shooting in South Africa of the ongoing Big Brother Nigeria reality show.   Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has asked the NBC to determine whether Multi-Choice has breached the Nigerian Broadcasting Code in any way, by shooting the show in South Africa, as well as the issue of possible deceit, since the viewing public was never told that the event would...

Bill Gates could become the world’s first trillionaire

In our lifetimes, we could see the first trillionaire. And, most likely, that first trillionaire would be Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates . That's according to research by Oxfam, an international network of organizations collectively working to alleviate global poverty. Its recently published report finds that eight billionaires from around the globe have as much money as the 3.6 billion people who make up the...

Yahya Jammeh will be ‘allowed to keep’ luxury car collection – Barrow

Gambian ex-president Yahya Jammeh will be allowed to keep his collection of 13 luxury cars and fly them out to his exiled home in Equatorial Guinea, a spokesman for new president Adama Barrow said Tuesday.Barrow’s spokesman confirmed to AFP an agreement had been struck to facilitate Jammeh’s exit on Saturday in order to end a weeks-long impasse caused by the ex-leader’s refusal to recognise Barrow’s election victory.   “What is very clear is that arrangements were made and the...

Death toll in Italy’s avalanche disaster climbs to 14

The death toll in Italy’s avalanche disaster rose to 14 Tuesday as rescuers extracted the bodies of two women from a devastated hotel and continued their search for 15 people still missing, local authorities said. Six other bodies were found between Monday afternoon and the early hours of Tuesday, the sixth day of what increasingly appears to be a forlorn search through the snow-covered wreckage of the Hotel Rigopiano. Eleven staff and guests survived the disaster, two men who were outside...

Lagos records 115 tanker accidents in 2016 – Official

The Lagos State Fire Service recorded 115 petroleum tanker accidents in 2016, Nwanovim George, the former Chief Fire Officer in the state has disclosed. Mr. George made the disclosure on Tuesday in Lagos at the ongoing national training for tanker drivers organised by Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, branch of NUPENG. Mr. George, who is currently the Personal Assistant to the Director, Lagos State Fire Service on Training Matters, said the service has already recorded six tanker in January 2017. He urged tanker...

Premium Times: How SSS lied against EFCC boss, Magu.

On Thursday, the Nigerian Senate declined to confirm the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as substantive chair of the country’s premier anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The upper legislative chamber claimed it could not approve the presidency’s request to confirm Mr. Magu based on a security report forwarded to it by the State Security Service. “The Senate wishes to inform the public that based on available security report, the Senate cannot proceed with the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu...

British PM must get parliament approval to trigger Brexit – Supreme Court

The UK Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May must get parliament’s approval before she begins Britain’s formal exit from the European Union, EU.   The UK’s highest judicial body dismissed the government’s argument that Ms. May could simply use executive powers known as “royal prerogative” to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty and begin two years of divorce talks.   However, the court rejected arguments that the UK’s devolved assemblies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales should...

NYSC orientation back in Adamawa after 3-year break

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has resumed orientation of corp members in Adamawa state, after a three-year suspension caused by the Boko Haram insurgency.   The last orientation was held in Adamawa in March 2013.   Speaking to Tuesday in Yola, Mohammed Abubakar, state coordinator of NYSC, said 2, 500 corps members were deployed to the state.   “Registration of corp members started this Tuesday morning by 7 am and you can see they are trooping in; we are expecting 2, 500 corp members,”...

“Quit whining, no one owes you anything”, Fayemi tell Nigerian graduates.

Kayode Fayemi, minister of solid minerals development, has admonished Nigerian graduates to quit complaining and stop waiting for the government to solve their problems. He said this on Monday while delivering the 49th convocation lecture of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka. Fayemi urged the undergraduates to work hard to achieve their dreams and stop waiting for handouts. “Quit whining, no one owes you anything. The earlier we realise that no one owes us anything, the better for us and the more...

President Buhari rejects senate’s recommendation for SGF’s sacking

President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected the recommendation of the senate for the sack of Babachir Lawal as secretary to the government of the federation (SGF).   Buhari said his decision was informed by the failure of the senate ad hoc committee on humanitarian crisis in the northeast to give Lawal a fair hearing. ? He conveyed his decision in a letter read by Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday.   In December 2016, the senate recommended the sack of Lawal for alleged corruption.   In its report,...

JUST IN: Again, CBN MPC retains interest rate at record high.

For the second time in four months, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided on Tuesday to hold benchmark interest rates at record high of 14 percent.   Godwin Emefiele, governor of the bank, announced that the committee also decided to keep cash reserve ratio (CRR) and liquidity ratio at 22.5 percent and 30 percent respectively.   He said the 10 members present at the meeting decided unanimously to keep the asymmetric corridor at +200 and +500 basis points.   The...

SON confisticates 1,000 bags of underweighed rice in Osogbo

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in Osun says it confiscated more than 1,000 underweighed bags of rice in Osogbo markets on Monday. Mr Sunday Badewole, the SON State Coordinator, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Osogbo on Tuesday. Badewole said the agency made the confiscation during the enforcement operation where more than 1,000 bags of 5kg, 10kg and 25kg of bags of rice were confiscated. He said many of the rice sellers had...

Sambisa, The Forest of Learning – By Buki Ponle

By now, it is crystal clear to the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), or any other groups and individuals with similar perception, that government is not toying with the safety, lives and property of Nigerians. This is clearly evident in the latest search conducted for the missing Chibok school girls in the notorious forest called Sambisa. Few days ago, the Federal Government, represented by the Minister of Information and Culture and that of Defence, arranged to join the Nigerian troops...

No Parliamentary Approval, No Brexit- Supreme Court Rules

It was a massive victory for Gina Miller as the Supreme Court has given a ruling giving the Parliament the right to approve the start of Brexit. Addressing journalists outside court after the judgment, Gina Miller thanked her supporters for the steadfastness. “In Britain, we are lucky – we are fortunate to have the ability to voice legitimate concerns and views as part of a shared society” she said. “I have therefore been shocked at the levels of personal abuse that I...

Court Orders Release of Ex-NSA Dasuki Again

An Abuja High Court has again reaffirmed the bail granted former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and five others in the arm deal trial involving $2.1 billion. Justice Baba Yusuf reaffirmed the bail on Mr. Dasuki on the ground that he was entitled to it and having been admitted to same since 2015 when the federal government brought criminal charges against him. Mr. Dasuki and five others were re-arraigned before Justice Baba Yusuf on the criminal charges that were transferred...

China urged to strengthen its nuclear arsenal to “force the US to respect it”

China must strengthen its nuclear arsenal to “force the US to respect it” in response to the stance of new US President Donald Trump, a leading newspaper said Tuesday. The comments in the Global Times, a popular paper known for its inflammatory rhetoric and hawkish views, came just days after President Xi Jinping called for the eventual global elimination of atomic weapons. In recent days, Chinese social media has carried pictures purporting to show an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile system deployed...

Yaya Toure explains why he’s not keen on playing in China

Yaya Toure says he wants to remain at Manchester City and is not interested in moving to China, amid reports of a big-money offer from the Chinese Super League.   Reports last week said Toure, 33, had rejected an approach from a Chinese club that would have seen him paid around £430,000 ($536,000, 499,000 euros) a week.   With his contract up at the end of the season, the former Ivory Coast midfielder faces an uncertain future, but he says he has no...

Kenya Conducts Mass Killings Of Dogs

Yesterday, January 23, 2017, Kenya Veterinary officers killed 82 dogs, 2 cats and a honey badger after rabies had been detected among some animals in Yatta, Machakos, LIB reports. According to the authorities, the animals were killed following the threat of rabies which is a deadly viral disease that could affect the local community.    

RCCG sends message to all senior pastors over MMM, other schemes

The Redeemed Christian Church of GOD (RCCG) has said that the doctrine of the mission does not support get rich quick schemes. This was made known in a memo addressed to pastors in charge of regions and provinces, by the General Secretary of the church, Pastor Johnson Odesola, on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. Pastor Odesola stated in the memo that some pastors and staff of the mission are getting themselves involved in all manner of money-making schemes, to the extent...

How Auchi Poly student duped white woman of $267,000 via dating

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Monday arraigned one Akintunde Vincent Abiodun begore at a Lagos State High court sitting in Ikeja for alleged love scam. The accused, a student of the Federal Polytechnic Auchi, Edo state was said to have defrauded his victim, D. Bonnici of $267,000 online by claiming to be Christopher Williams from the United Kingdom. According to the complainant, she met the 37-year-old man on a dating site on the internet and allegedly fell in love...