Ajaokuta Steel Company was midwifed in 1979 by the civilian government of the late Alhaji Shehu Usman Shagari as a steel mill in Nigeria.

It is located in Ajaokuta Local Government Area of Kogi State.
The project is conceived to be used to generate important upstream and downstream industrial and economic activities that are critical to the diversification of our economy into a steel industry powerhouse.

Sited on 24,000 hectares, it is the largest steel mill in Nigeria, and the coke oven and by-products plant are larger than any in the African subregion.
It is a huge complex with housing estates of over 1000 homes, a seaport, power generating plant amidst other mini town facilities.

As at completion, the project is expected to provide materials for infrastructural development, technology and skill acquisition, human capacity building, income accrual and distribution, state and regional development including employment generation.

With a direct employment of about 10,000 plus staff at the first phase, the upstream and downstream industries that will evolve all over the nation will engage not less than 500,000 extended employees.

The plant design encompasses not just a Rolling Mill, but an Integrated Iron and Steel Plant with four (4) rolling mills namely; The Billet Mill, the Light Section Mill, the Wire Rod Mill and the Medium Section and Structural Mill.

The steel mill was 84% completed by the time Shagari was removed from office in 1983. The steel mill reached 98% completion in 1994, with 40 of the 43 plants at the facility having been built.

The iron ore designated for Ajaokuta is from Itakpe with low iron content hence the need to outsource and the birth of NIOMCO (National Iron Ore Mining Company) to upgrade the low content ore to suitable grade via a beneficiation plant.

Though the full take off was delayed by the challenge posed by the near inadequate proximity to raw material sources in 1987, a contract was awarded for the construction of Nigeria’s first standard gauge railway by Olusegun Obasanjo led Federal Government , from the iron mines at Itakpe to the steel mill at Ajaokuta.

The scope of the project was further extended to the Atlantic Ocean at Warri but in the end, both projects were mismanaged. The Ajaokuta Steel Mill is still unfinished four decades after construction began.

Apparently frustrated by the condition of the project; the Federal Government in 2002, concessioned the project to a Japanese firm, Kobe Steel in an attempt at revitalising it without much success. In 2004, the project was again transferred, this time to Ispat Industries. The deal was financed by Global Infrastructure Holdings Limited (GIHL) (now Global Steel Holdings Limited, GSHL), which is chaired by Indian steel magnate Mr. Pramod Mittal. The concession ended in 2008 after the government accused GIHL of asset-stripping. GIHL then sued Nigeria at International Chamber of Commerce.

The dispute was initially resolved in 2016, with Nigeria regaining control of the Ajaokuta Steel Mill in exchange for GIHL retaining the Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) operating at Itakpe.

In 2022, the Nigerian government paid $496 million to GSHL to settle the claims.

The Ajaokuta Steel Mill still had not produced a single sheet of steel by December 2017 but the light mills were finally put into operation in 2018 for small-scale fabrication and the production of iron rods.

However, three-quarters of the plant have been abandoned, including the large-scale equipment and the internal railway.

The total gamut of our steel industry from inception and incorporation in 1979 to date demands a very astute mind in managerial skills to revamp rejig and foster a culmination of diverse operational acumen to fuse all needed parameters towards achieving the desired goal of making Nigeria a factor in the world of steel production.
The new minister of steel development Honorable Minister Shuaib Audu is up to the task and ready to hit the ground running.
He has taken a physical appraisal of the complex both in Ajaokuta and Itakpe with professionals in the industry coupled with consultants and staff with the history of the complex.
Little wonder Mr President has earmarked the Steel Industry and Solid Minerals development as crucial revenue generation for our nation in tandem with the Oil and Gas solo income earner of the country.
As Nigerians we are duty bound to think and act positive in our dispositions.
This lofty Ajaokuta Steel Complex and its ancillaries are structures managed by Nigerians who should be bound by duty and work ethics to make it work and earn befitting wages therein..
Unfortunately, as a people we need a change of attitude.
Not too young to run is a factor of the Renewed Hope Agenda with youthful vibrant ministers turning the wheels of change for a better Nigeria.
Minister Shuaib Audu you have a herculean job on your hands coupled with your youth and futuristic approach to development and achievement, all eyes are on you to deliver as appropriate.

The blueprint is on hand, expectation is high and Nigerians await another foreign exchange earner at the earliest without anti development hurdles.

I wish you luck and all needed assistance.


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