—As Fayemi briefs President on Ajaokuta steel, ASCON
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – GOVERNOR Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State Tuesday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on the need to establish a deep seaport in the state.
This is as the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi also briefed President Buhari on the position of Ajaokuta Steel Company and the Aluminum Smelting Company in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State and on how to ensure that the companies were brought back to life.
Although the meeting between the President and Governor Akeredolu was held under closed-door, the governor in an interview with the State House Correspondents said that establishing seaport in Ondo state would boost non oil export activities.
He said, “We are asking that the country takes advantage of the natural resources in Ondo state and we have a seaport that is very germane to our export activities.
“In particular our mineral deposits which we have in large number and then we need to have a deep sea manning port and Ondo states is well suited for it. So we impressed thus on Mr. President on what we believe will be a lasting legacy if we are able to accomplish it in his own time.”
On what was the volume of mineral resources being exported through other ports that would warrant a deep seaport in Ondo state, he said, “You just look at the volume of natural resources that we are exporting through any port in Nigeria.
“The total volume is still not so high, the moment it gets high we will need a deep seaport where we will even have a modern ship to berth. We do not have any where in this country today where big ship can berth, not in Lagos or Calabar.
“That is why what you see is that so many of the ships will berth in the high sea while the smaller ones will be used to take the goods there or bring the goods from the ship. And that is why we need a deep seaport where the biggest ship in the world can berth and that is Ondo state.”
Also speaking to journalists, the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Fayemi said that thedeep seaport was really not for now it was about the future.
He said, “We are emphasizing solid minerals development as a vehicle for diversification, an agenda of Mr. President. So if we look at what role that will play in the future and the entire non-oil sector, now we are talking about our oil wealth going down, at the same time we are talking that other countries are talking about manufacturing cars that will not use fuel in the next two decades.
“What will these cars be using? If you look at the Tetlar vehicles out there now they are all battery powered and where will the battery power come from? It will come from lead, lithium, cobalt, these are things that we have in abundant in Nigeria.
“So, although we may loss out on oil, it doesn’t mean it is a zero sum gain, we may be gaining other things which Mr. President is keen on.”
He said that President Buhari asked for an update on Ajaokuta steel company and the Aluminum Smelting Company in Ikot Abasi.
“I came to brief Mr. President on the development to ensure these companies back to life.
“I told him about the efforts that Mr. Vice President has leading, on ensuring that we have a definitive solution to the sale of Aluminum Smelting Company in Ikot Abasi, and that we also move forward in the resolution and agreement reached on Ajaokuta Steel so that we get ready for the second concessioning.
“We have appointed an Adviser, we have appointed a new leadership there because the term of the last leadership has expired. Those were the things we updated Mr. President on.”
The Minister said that mineral resources had contributed significantly to the GDP and revenue of the country.
He said, “This year alone we have exceeded the target given to us. If you look at the Bureau of Statistics report you will see that the two sectors that have contributed immensely to the GDP are agriculture and solid minerals.”