Ajaokuta Steel: Union Workers Task Buhari on Speedy Disbursement of Funds for Technical Audit
By Francis Kadiri
The Chairman, Nigerian Union of Mines Workers, Ajaokuta Branch, Kogi State, Comrd Kabiru Alhaji Haruna, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to give marching orders for the disbursement of funds he approved for the technical audit of Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASCO).
Haruna, who made the call at the National Delegates Conference of the Nigerian Union of Mines Workers (NUMW), in Abuja, on Saturday, charged relevant stakeholders to act without delay in order to complete the project in the remaining two years of the Buhari administration.
‘I commend President Buhari for approving the sum needed for the technical audit of Ajaokuta Steel Company, but there is delay in disbursement. We encourage the president to direct the immediate release of the funds. When the money is disbursed, the technical audit would begin, and we can then expect a timeline of audit process and other timelines including project completion.’
He commended the President for approving the request which was made by a presidential team – the Ajaokuta Project Implementation Team (APIT), in the ongoing efforts of government to complete the project.
‘The technical audit will let us know the exact state of project infrastructure, and we will know what is next,’ he said.
He expressed concern that ‘although there has been six years of sincere efforts by the Buhari administration to reactivate Ajaokuta Steel Company, but until the goal is realized, we cannot say that ASCO is restored.’
Comr Haruna, who is also National Vice President (1) of the Nigerian Union of Mines Workers commended the project implementation team saying that ‘they have been working to revive Ajaokuta Steel Company.’
Discussing the mood of staff of the establishment, the union leader said: ‘I commend the members of the union in ASCO and NIOMCO for their patriotic disposition to the country through their commitment to maintenance of infrastructure at the establishments.
‘I also commend the National President of the NUMW, Comr Hamza Muhammad and all members of the national executive council and other stakeholders in sister associations who have been very passionate about ASCO and NIOMCO.’
‘Of course, workers are happy to have been very instrumental for the maintenance of project infrastructure, but we also want to do more, we want to hear the blaring sounds of rolling mills, workers want to see liquid steel flow, we want to be part of our country’s industrialization, and we believe that President Muhammadu Buhari can do it if he acts with seed,’ Haruna said.
‘I am overwhelmed by the decades of commitment of staff of ASCO and NIOMCO to the maintenance of project infrastructures. To be frank, their commitment is part of what has kept the complexes alive,’ Haruna said.
‘What this means is that we deeply desire completion of the project. We will be so fulfilled when the projects begin to work. It is then that worker will be most fulfilled.’
We encourage President Buhari, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, and the SGF to give marching orders to the committee toward ensuring that speed completion of the project.
Together with members of my executive committee, I have engaged Arc Olamilekan Adegbite on the status of the project. He gave us an update. However, the process is slow and it has its implication.
Discussing the possible implication of the delay, Comr Haruna feared that ‘if this administration does not complete the good work it has started, we are not sure of what the disposition of the next administration would be,’ stating that some past administrations did nothing to resituate the project apart from paying lip services.
‘So, our prayer to President Buhari is that he should prioritize requests being made by the presidential committee on implementation of ASCO and NIOMCO. When this is done, we would be more hopeful of the project completion in the remaining two years of the current administration,’ he added.
Discussing the welfare of staff of ASCO, the Chairman said: ‘I am happy to tell you that there is industrial harmony at Ajaokuta Steel Company. The Sole Administrator, Engr Sumaila Abdul-Aka’aba is a professional who has standard private sector background where best practices are the order of the day. So, you should expect that he can play the game in a different manner.
‘Although there are challenges here, but the patriotism of workers coupled with the Sole Administrator’s leadership style helps us address the problems,’ Haruna added.
‘He is very honest and open to workers and we can see what he is doing, so there is no alternative to the harmony between the management and the union,’ he added.