The federal government has reiterated its commitment to encourage local investors in mine and steel sector, especially with the potential to provide more job opportunities for Nigerian youth.
Speaking during an official visit to a local steel manufacturing industry in Ilorin, Kwara state, Kamwire Industry Limited, on Thursday, Minister for Mines and Steel, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, said that government would consider a total ban on steel importation to encourage local steel manufacturers.
The minister, who said that government was determined to stop the importation of substandard steel products into Nigeria, said that: “First, we are working with Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) to address the issue. The ministry is not in control of the quality of steel products that come into the country, though we’re responsible for steel productions. We’ll work with the standard agency to control what comes in.
The ultimate aim is to ban steel importation totally. But before we do that, we will ensure we’re able to satisfy local consumption from local production and still have excess to export. That’s where we’re heading.
“We welcome local industrialisation and local entrepreneurs. We want to encourage them. I can see the depth of backward integration here, from raw material to finished product. This is an example of what Nigeria should do. If you do this, you can imagine this complex providing over 4,000 employment opportunities. If we have replication of this all over the country, it will reduce the rate of restiveness and banditry we have in the country.”
Architect Adegbite expressed the determination of the federal government to effectively harness the mining sector and commended Kamwire industry for the steps taken so far to develop the sector.
The minister, who said that local investors are better than foreign investors, added that they would engage the local people and at the end of the day would not take their profit out of the state.
Also speaking, vice-chairperson of Kamwire Holding, Hajia Bolanle Yusuf, said that there is a need for more attention in the Iron and Steel sector to become a national product for diverse economic benefits due to the numerous opportunities such as job creation, revenue generation and improved social welfare of the people of the nation.
She also called for continuous advocacy for diversification of the economy, most importantly in favour of Steel sector and guard against economic saboteurs who, she said had held us to ransom through smuggling and illegal importation of Galvanized, Aluminum and Corrugated roofing sheets into Nigeria.
“Despite the recent closure of land borders, Seaports are still porous and at the moment, Nigeria market is flooded with substandard roofing sheets, a sad scenario which calls for urgent national debate.
“Conspiracy and sharp practices among law enforcement agencies and importers are out rightly negating the federal government’s drive against criminality among Nigerians.
“The goal in the Iron and Steel sector’s roadmap is that it would contribute about 10 per cent to our national GDP by 2025 and help diversify the nation’s economy. In order to realise this dream, there is an urgent need for Your Excellency to engage the authority of Standard Organization of Nigeria, (SON) and Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS) to work closely with us in this regard.