The Sole Administrator of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Isah Onobere, said on Thursday that one of the 43 plants installed in the complex was capable of producing 600, 000 tonnes of steel annually and that the quantity could cover a 10, 000 kilometres of rail network across the country.

Onobere, who stated this at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Privatisation, explained that the company requires N80bn to put the plant in use at full capacity.

He explained that the firm would put together a business plan to the Federal Government to accommodate it in the Memorandum of Understanding recently signed with the Chinese government on the construction of two major rail tracks across the country.

He added that the Light Mill section of the plant, which would require N43bn to become functional, could produce 400, 000 tonnes of steel per annum at full capacity.

He also said that with an investment of the N43bn, the plant could generate an average annual income of N80bn.

He added that the Thermal plant of the firm which has installed capacity of 110 megawatts of electricity, requires N5bn to become operational and would generate N18.7bn annually.

He also said that the electricity that would be produced by the firm could power the entire 43 plants in the complex when fully operational and also supply power to three states including Kogi.

He also debunked Insinuations that the heavy equipment installed in the sprawling edifice was obsolete, insisting that they can never be outdated.

He described the complex as the bedrock of Nigeria’s development, and that the government must be careful to concession it because any attempt to do so, would amount to selling out scraps.

He said, “About$ 513m was required to complete Ajaokuta project. This place is the bedrock of Nigeria’s development. The first phase of the project has reached 98 percent completion but was abandoned in 1994.

“For 22 years, there was no new input, and N23trn worth of steel products had been imported into Nigeria in nine years whereas $513m is needed to complete the project. Total investment for the entire project is $4.6bn.”

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, commended the Former President Shehu Shagari’s administration for the foresight in establishing the sprawling complex, which according to him, could industrialise Nigeria, overnight.

He advised the Federal Government to involve the Ajaokuta Steel firm in its negotiations with the Chinese government which was expected to construct 8, 000 kilometres of rail network in the country, at the cost of $80bn.

He said what the government needed to do was to tell the Chinese government that the steel needed for the entire project could be produced in Ajaokuta and that the firm requires about $40m to produce the raw materials it needed.

Bruce expressed disappointment that the successive governments could abandon the projects and blamed previous administrations and governments as being behind the rot and abandonment.

He pledged that his committee would meet with Vice President, Yomi Osinbajo to find lasting solution to the problem to ensure that the company worked again since it could be operational even without subventions from the federal government.

He said, “After spending about $5bn, it does not make any sense to abandon the plant. The government should have had a plan. We are disappointed that successive governments after Shagari abandoned the project”