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

CBN bullion Van collides With Tanker, many died, Millions of naira burnt

Central Bank of Nigeria bullion vans, a fuel tanker, a commercial bus and cars collided on the ever-busy Benin-Asaba-Onitsha Expressway, leaving at least 14 people dead. The victims included officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), policemen and passengers of commercial buses, where millions of naira notes were said to have been burnt to ashes. Two of the 10 bullion vans which were in a convoy conveying money from Asaba end of the expressway were said to have collided...

OPINION: Kogi State Governor Bello Going Astray – By Adewale Giwa

If Nigerians did not protest against the anti-social media law sponsored by Bala Ibn Na’allah, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress from Kebbi State that made the Senate throw out the bill into the dustbin, Yahaya Bello, Kogi State governor, would have been one of Nigeria's toughest governors towards journalists. One would have thought that being the youngest governor in Nigeria, is his age pushing him presently to be going astray?     Bello was recently quoted in a broadcast...

FG Set to Launch Buhari Mobile App

Nigeria's Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has stated that the accomplishments of the Muhammadu Buhari regime are under-reported. As a result, the federal government will launch a mobile app that will give a real time update about the achievements of the government, he said. He spoke on Thursday at a meeting with Resident Information Officers (RIOs) in the ministry on the forthcoming launch of the information dissemination App. "..government is doing so much, yet people keep saying they do not...

Nigerian Military Set To Reopen Key Borno Roads After 3 Years Of Closure

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima announced on Thursday that the Nigerian military will reopen the Maiduguri-Magumeri-Gubio and Damasak roads, which have been closed for three years due to the Boko Haram scourge.   The governor made the announcement while meeting with Muhammad Dandano, governor the Diffa region in the Niger Republic. Diffa, like Borno, has...

Rivers Rerun: INEC, Security Agencies Meet With Political Parties

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the various security agencies, as well as political party leaders and their candidates have met again in continuous efforts to ensure that Saturday’s rerun polls in Rivers state are hitch-free.   With the poll already generating tension, the Deputy Inspector General Of Police in Charge of Operations, Joshak Habila, said no group would be allowed to cause violence during the exercise.   Meanwhile, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Aniedi Ikoiwak, has equally given the...

Is Buhari Out Of Sync With Nigerians? – By Adewale Giwa

Many people believe that the emergence of the opposition All Progressives Party (APC) will find a lasting solution to Nigeria’s woes. But, as it is, people who are not parochial in analyzing issues could easily conclude that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is not showing any positive sign in tackling the nation’s challenges. This opinion of mine might not go down well with APC supporters/sympathizers who are out there to deceive and defend the government despite...

Troops Destroy Armed Bandit’s Camps In Zamfara

Troops attached to 1 Division of the Nigerian Army have ramped up clearance operations against armed bandits and cattle rustlers in Zamafara State as part of Operation Sharan Daji.   According to a press release issued by Colonel Sani Usman on Thursday, troops killed 9 armed bandits and livestock rustlers within the past three days. They also destroyed the bandits' and rustlers' camps and motorcycles in Bungudu and Maru Local Government Areas.   The soldiers also arrested two suspected armed bandits: Awidi Mohammed and...

Ghanaian Voters Pick Nana Akufo-Addo, As New President – Media Reports

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Presidential candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), has won Ghana’s presidential election, defeating incumbent President John Mahama in a hotly contested election according to result released by media outlets across the country.   Mr. Akufo-Addo party also triumphed over Mr. Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC), in parliamentary elections that also took place throughout Ghana on Wednesday, December 7, 2016.   President Mahama’s bid for reelection was hurt by widespread voter disaffection with an economy that has...

Obanikoro in Fresh N450m Poll Cash Scandal

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday quizzed a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, for allegedly receiving N450m from the Coordinator of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation in Lagos State, Adewale Onilere, during the countdown to the 2015 presidential election. Operatives disclosed that the N450m was part of the N23bn ($115m) allegedly disbursed to the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 36 states of the federation by a former Minister of Petroleum...

Governor El-Rufai Denies Paying Herdsmen

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai has denied paying Fulani herdsmen to instigate the Southern Kaduna crisis. His media aide Samuel Aruwan, at a news conference yesterday, reiterated that El-Rufai did not pay the herdsmen, to either appease or arm them, as widely reported in the media. The Senator representing Kaduna South, Danjuma La’ah, accused El-Rufai of paying the Fulani herdsmen for killing his constituents. According to Aruwan, El-Rufai has continued with the peace efforts of former Governor Patrick Yakowa, and will...

First US Somali Lawmaker Gets ‘Islamophobic Threats’ In Taxi

The first Somali-American lawmaker in the US has said she was subjected to "hateful" anti-Muslim threats from a taxi driver in Washington DC. Minnesota Representative-elect Ilhan Omar said the cabbie threatened to remove her hijab during a confrontation on Tuesday. The 34-year-old said the incident occurred just after she attended policy training at the White House. Ms Omar, a Democrat, came to the US as a child from a refugee camp in Kenya. She made history and national headlines last month when...

Reps seek suspension of ban on land border-imported cars

The House of Representatives yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the ban on the importation of new and used cars through Nigeria’s land borders.   According to the lawmakers, the policy is too harsh and will put more pressure on Nigerians who are already groaning under the prevailing recession.   The decision followed the adoption of a motion by Abdullahi Salame (APC, Sokoto) who said the percentage of Nigerians who could afford cars had declined drastically. He explained that the decline...

Lebanon Takes First Step To Abolish Marriage Rape Law

Lebanese lawmakers on Wednesday took the first step to overturn a law that allows rapists to avoid punishment if they marry their victims. The move came a day after protesters wearing fake-blood-stained wedding gowns confronted lawmakers just steps away from Parliament in the capital Beirut. After a scheduled review of Article 522 of the penal code, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri tweeted that a parliamentary committee had agreed to push forward with a plan that would abolish...

The Obamas Looks Incredible in Their Final White House Christmas Card

According to tradition, the White House sends out a holiday card to friends, political supporters, and members of the media. This year's greeting is bittersweet because it will be the last one from President Barack Obama after eight years in office. The silver lining here is that the Obamas — well, they're just like us — and they're sending out a card featuring a photo of the fam. There's...

Senate Calls for NYSC Overhaul

The Senate on Thursday called on the Federal Government to overhaul the National Youth Service Corps Scheme. The call followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by the Chief Whip of the Senate, Olusola Adeyeye (APC Central). The Senate also called on the government to improve on medical facilities in all NYSC orientation camps across the country and deploy experienced medical personnel to the NYSC medical centres. The Senate therefore mandated its Committee on Sports and Youth Development to conduct...

Italy President Starts Talks Over New Government

Italy’s president has started talks with the political leaders of the country to form a new government following the resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. President Sergio Mattarella began consultations on Thursday to decide whether to appoint an interim prime minister until upcoming elections scheduled for 2018 or to assign the leadership of the country to an interim government, which should serve until a snap vote could be held in spring. Mattarella, a former constitutional court judge, began by consulting the...

Stop begging those who stole Nigeria’s money, fight them – Femi Falana

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has called on the federal government to adopt an “aggressive policy” to recover looted funds instead of asking for loans. Falana said this on the sidelines of an event organised by the US embassy in Abuja to mark the international anti-corruption day. “People have stolen our money, why are you begging them to return it? We need to fight them and collect the money; we do not need loans that will mortgage the future of our country,”...

Rihanna Slams Beyoncé Feud Rumors Over Grammy Nominations

The “Work” singer wants everyone to “drop this topic.” She dismisses the suggestion of her having a beef with Jay Z’s wife, adding, “We don’t need to be putting black women against each other! We deserve to be celebrated, and the Grammy Academy agrees!” Rihanna accidentally fuelled longstanding rumors of a feud between the women on Instagram yesterday after Grammy nominations were announced....

Kano commissioner arraigned for land ‘racketeering’.

Faruk Faruk, Kano state commissioner of lands, was on Thursday arraigned before a high court over alleged land racketeering.   Also arraigned were Mahmud Bari, a former permanent secretary of the ministry, and Ahmad Ibrahim, a director.   The public complaint and anti-corruption commission of the state charged the trio for criminal breach of trust, which is punishable under section 97 of the penal code.   The accused were said to have sold a plot of land to one Baba Sharu Dala in April. They...

National ID is the solution to underage voting — Muhammadu Buhari

The federal government has tasked the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) ?to ensure that the national identification number is used to authenticate eligible voters in future. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave the charge while speaking at a policy round-table meeting on Identity Management organised by NIMC in collaboration with the World Bank at the state house conference? centre. The accusation of underage voting, particularly in the north, was one of the few sour points of the 2015 election, but the use of...

Senators move to legalize insertion of constituency projects into budgets

The senate on Thursday resolved to pass a bill seeking to give legitimacy to the inclusion of constituency projects in the federal budget.   Constituency projects, which have been a subject of controversy owing allegations of corruption, are carried out by federal legislators across their constituencies.   Abdulmumin Jibrin, a suspended member of the house of representatives, had raised the alarm over alleged illegal insertions of constituency projects in the 2016 budget.   But the upper legislative chamber now wants to make such “insertions” legal.   The...