The Ajaokuta Steel Company established in the early 1980s, but it has not met its production capacity for more than two decades now due to poor maintenance.

However, the Nigerian government is optimistic that the company will soon provide at least 500,000 people upstream and downstream employment.

Located on a 24,000-hectare sprawling green-field landmass, with the Steel Plant itself built on 800-hectares of land, the company was established to take the lead in steel company and in supply of quality steel products in all the major economic sectors, including construction, packaging, wire drawing and nail making industry among others.

But years of poor maintenance have reduced the company to a shadow of itself.

Some of its equipment have been described as obsolete.

But the government thinks the company can still provide many Nigerians jobs.

Giving an update on the level of resuscitation works that are ongoing at the factory, the Sole Administrator of the company,

Mr Isah Onobere, told reporters during a media tour to the company on Friday that the first phase of the plant would provide direct employment for 10,000 technical staff when inaugurated.

Considering outright sales

The first phase, according to him, has been completed.

“It is targeting the production of 1.3 million tonnes of liquid steel per annum,” he said.

Ajaokuta still company.

The company will also cost $400 million to complete, but it has reached 98 per cent completion.

According to Mr Onobere, $2 billion is needed for infrastructure rehabilitation and operational cost.

Meanwhile, the government has started committing resources toward the maintenance and preservation of the equipment and facilities of the plant recently, but Mr Onobere also called for improved efforts, highlighting that a drastic decision must be taken to see the company come back to its full production capacity.

“The government is considering the report on various options on the way forward for the completion of the project.

“These options are outright sales, concessioning and joint venture of Ajaokuta steel," he said.

On the standard of equipment in the company, Mr Onobere dismissed rumours that the company’s equipment was obsolete, emphasising that the company, which is near completion, could stand the test of time.

“All its equipment are functioning appropriately,” he claimed.

The company’s foundation was laid by the then President, Shehu Shagari, in 1980 and within four years, it attained 84 per cent completion.