Ajaokuta steel company has immense economic benefits for all Nigerians-Bashir Sani

Ajaokuta steel company has immense economic benefits for all Nigerians-Bashir Sani

Bashir Sani is a Former information and cultural attaché at Nigerian
Embassy, Washinton DC. He has been a strong voice in the struggle towards
the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta steel company.

In a telephone interview
with LUBEM GENA from his United States of America base, he explained that
all Nigerians stand to benefit immensely from the company if it comes back
to life.

What informed your decision to go into the struggle for the resuscitation
of the Ajaokuta steel rolling company?

My intention or rather what brought me into the program was my father. I
notice that my father lived his life in total service to people that were
around him. So while growing up, I gradually decided to use his ideas and
even take them a step further, all in service to the people. I grew
naturally into his ideals in terms of helping people. I went into this
initiative because I think Nigeria needs help which will go a long way in
helping her people. That is just my driving force.

What does the company mean to you as a person and Kogi state in general?

Ajaokuta steel company mean to me and Kogi state generally not much. But if
you ask me what Ajaokuta steel mills mean to Nigeria, it will be a better
question.  It cannot mean anything to those who sit right next door who
continue to see what is happening. To them, it means nothing is going on in
Ajaokuta because the people themselves don’t know what God has intended for
that place. It is now at the national economic perspective that Ajaokuta
steel company mean a lot.

What exactly do you mean by saying the people don’t know the value of the
company?

If they do know what Ajaokuta steel company means to them, they would not
be silent over its comatose state. If probably they know, they would wake
up every morning and talk about it and move towards getting it functional
for Nigeria. When I say they don’t know its relevance, it also means an
Egbiraman whom God has bestowed this gigantic edifice in his locality to
help improve their standard of living is not benefitting from its
supposedly benefits. So the common Egbiraman, Okeneman or Kogi state man
don’t know where they are heading. They do not see the usefulness of
Ajaokuta because they are more inclined to waking in the morning, woken by
common human hunger to go and get something to eat; to meet their immediate
needs. They have no long time foresight on Ajaokuta.

But you have been engaged in enlightening the people over this issue for
some time now. Is it that the information is not going down to them or they
are simply not concerned?

Over the years, I tried my possible best. But the problem I have is that,
we are not used to fighting as a group. We don’t believe in teamwork. So
people who have money to help assist the movement are not interested. But
right now, they want to hijack the process to manipulate it out of focus
for their pecuniary needs. I remain focus to get this Ajaokuta steel moving
forward without a dime from them.

Now we have another government in place both at the national and state
level, what exactly do you want to see done to bring the company back on
stream considering that government has promised to revitalize it?

I just want the federal, state, local governments and the entire Nigerian
people to come together and decide on this project. During the National
Conference organised by the former President Goodluck Jonathan, the
position of Initiative for the Actualisation of Ajaokuta Steel, (IAAS)
which is my sore initiative, was very firm on government fashioning out a
timetable for the entire nation so that it will impact on the company. We
don’t want anybody to come and cajole me or anybody else to say Ajaokuta
will be completed tomorrow but we want a comprehensive plan with a specific
timetable to tell the Nigerian people that we are going to go ahead to
complete Ajaokuta steel company and map out a complete open system to tell
us that, this job will be given serious progress.  There should be a
roadmap, especially time on which this project will be completed. So
without any timetable we are just wasting time so that any government which
comes to power will follow. We need to insert it in our constitution or
open a national debate on the matter. I want somebody to come up with an
idea or an original thought and tell us that we need to have a focus on
completing Ajaokuta, regardless of any political party.

Also, is there any way the governor of the state can be of help in the
struggle for the resuscitation of the steel complex?

Oh yes. He has a great role to play. I just want people to realise that,
the next thing he has to do is to bring development closer to the people in
such a manner that it would benefit each and every Nigerian that lives in
Kogi state. On the other hand everybody should participate actively to move
Kogi forward by ensuring that Ajaokuta is resuscitated and becomes a
company in Nigeria where goods and services are provided to the general
public. It is in that way that it will provide multitude of employment for
the people living in and out of Kogi state.

What time frame would you want to see this dream become a reality?

I cannot have a time frame. The government has the time frame.  They know
how much they have. They know the urgency of the people. They have a
general overview of the problem. I don’t want government to rush and just
dump in money at people who will steal it. Government should insist on
putting a proper roadmap that Senate and the House of Representatives and
every member of the Nigerian community that has an essential role to play
in our national development making sure that we have a specific timeframe
for Ajaokuta.

But there have been several calls by the Senate that the federal government
should revive the steel industry. From your perspective, what actually went
wrong after these calls that have resulted to this seeming lack of action?

Honestly, National Assembly and its mechanism is what I don’t have any say
about. That is why I contested an election to use my position and know
exactly what the problem was that led to the present state of the company.
At the moment. I do not know what happened.

All we want is for the National Assembly to establish a special priority
benchmark programme, vote money and pass into law so that any government
will follow the roadmap.

You contested the National Assembly election to represent your people. What
would you say was your experience?

The people I talked with were highly motivated to ensure that I win the
election but unfortunately, the tsunami wiped everybody in every other
political party to ensure that Gen. Buhari was elected as the President.
There was also a bandwagon effect and I lost.

In the course of this struggle for the resuscitation of Ajaokuta, what do
you suggest to be the role of an ordinary Kogi man in the actualization of
your struggle?

The role is for all Nigerians not only people of Kogi state. They should
play a role that will lead to the resuscitation of the company. This is
because it will generate goods and services as well as employment
opportunities for many other Nigerians not only people living in and around
Kogi state.


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