The Federal Government Thursday in Abuja said it could no longer complete the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill in 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed this when he spoke at a special weekly ministerial media briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“Where we are today, we may not be able to get Ajaokuta to work but I pray that we can start something permanent,” he said.
He, however, noted that the Federal Government would initiate irreversible processes to ensure the resumption and eventual completion of the steel facility beyond the Buhari regime.
The minister revealed that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), after negotiations with Russia before the pandemic, approved the disbursement of $2m for the conduct of a technical audit of the mill as demanded by the Soviet nation before the restart of its implementation.
Adegbite further explained that the Federal Government moved to continue the earlier negotiations with Russia, but progress was again stalled due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents, he said, “I told you, Ajaokuta, by the grace of God, we will start an irreversible process. The problem with Ajaokuta is actually what we call force majeure. Nobody thought of the Covid because the plan was to deliver Ajaokuta this year 2022.
“And I’ve said it before when we came back from Russia. Yes, I went to the public and said, look, we will deliver Ajaokuta before the end of this tenure. And I pray that I’ll have a chance to go back and apologise and explain what happened to the people before I leave office.