Nigeria’s Ajaokuta Steel Complex, a colossal industrial project initiated during the administration of former President Shehu Shagari in 1979, is on the brink of a remarkable transformation. With its completion now in sight, this sprawling 24,000-hectare (59,000-acre) complex is poised to become the cornerstone of the nation’s industrial resurgence.
Originally designed to produce 1.3 million tonnes of liquid steel annually in its first phase, 2.6 million tonnes in the second phase, and a staggering 5.2 million tonnes per annum in the final stage, the Ajaokuta Steel Complex is a symbol of Nigeria’s ambition to harness its vast mineral resources. It stands as the largest steel complex in the country, dwarfing all existing refineries in terms of capacity.
One of its standout features is the coke oven and by-products plant, which alone exceeds the combined capacity of all of Nigeria’s refineries. This industrial giant, nestled in the heart of the nation, promises to be a game-changer for the Nigerian economy.
Former President Muhammadu Buhari, in December 2022, estimated that when operational, the Ajaokuta Steel Complex would not only generate around 500,000 jobs but also contribute approximately $1.6 billion in annual revenue to the federal government. Beyond these immediate benefits, the complex is poised to attract foreign direct investment and create a conducive business environment for various sectors to thrive.
As Nigeria grapples with high unemployment rates, particularly among its youth population, the Ajaokuta Steel Complex presents a glimmer of hope. Its completion would provide job opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, addressing a pressing national challenge.
The potential of the steel complex extends far beyond the realm of job creation. It has the power to reshape Nigeria’s industrial landscape and position the country as a major player in the global steel industry. Nigeria, rich in iron ore resources, would be able to tap into this abundance to produce steel products, reducing its reliance on imports and bolstering domestic production.
The project’s long and storied history is testament to the determination to make Ajaokuta a reality. It is not only an industrial endeavor but also a symbol of resilience and ambition. Over the years, various administrations have recognized the importance of completing the complex and have taken steps to bring it closer to fruition.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was represented by the vice president, Kashim Shettima, who’s also a prominent APC chieftain, recently emphasized the strategic significance of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex during the launch of the APC governorship campaign in Lokoja, Kogi State. He highlighted the commitment of the APC to fully harness the potential of the complex once it is operational. The emphasis on this industrial behemoth underscores the party’s recognition of the pivotal role it can play in Nigeria’s economic revival.
Ahmed Ododo, the APC governorship candidate, reaffirmed his commitment to the development of Kogi State. He pledged to continue the work initiated by Governor Yahaya Bello, with a focus on security, education, agriculture, healthcare, and women’s empowerment.
Prominent figures such as Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Shuaibu Audu, Minister of Steel Development, and members of the APC’s National Working Committee also graced the event with their presence.
The Ajaokuta Steel Complex represents a beacon of hope for Nigeria’s industrial future. Its completion would not only address critical issues like unemployment but also position the nation as a regional and global player in the steel industry. As the project nears its long-awaited completion, the focus on harnessing its potential for economic growth is a step in the right direction. Nigeria’s journey toward industrial resurgence may soon receive a significant boost from this monumental complex, bringing prosperity and opportunities for its citizens.