The appointment of Prince Shaibu Abubakar-Audu as Minister of Steel Development has raised the hope of Kogi State indigenes over the completion of the 34-year-old Ajaokuta Steel Complex.
Some indigenes and stakeholders made their views known to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lokoja on Thursday.
They celebrated Abubakar Audu’s appointment by President Bola Tinubu.
Kingsley Fanwo, the Kogi State Commissioner for Information, told NAN that Shuaibu’s appointment had gone to show that “the Ajaokuta Steel Complex is as good as completed already”.
Fanwo said: “By appointing a distinguished Kogi indigene with a rich background in investment and banking, is a clear testament to the fact that our leader and president is well prepared to renew our hope.
“This is largely because Prince Shuaibu Abubakar-Audu is a technocrat with the requisite competence to make steel development a cardinal part of our economic recovery plan.
“Remember when our dear president came to campaign in Kogi State, he assured the people of his commitment to the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company, which has the potential of taking Nigeria to the circle of industrial giants.
“As you can see, there is so much excitement in the air around the state that the delayed dream of many decades is about to come into reality under the administration of President Bola Tinubu.”
Fanwo expressed gratitude to the President for fulfilling his promise to the people of Kogi State and Nigerians as a whole.
The Commissioner said that Governor Yahaya Bello and the entire people of Kogi State would support the Minister to succeed in the task ahead for the benefit of the state and Nigeria as a whole.
A Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Austyn Ochu, and former Head of Media and Publicity for the Kogi State Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Committee, who recently defected, described Abubakar-Audu’s ministerial portfolio as “a round peg in a round hole”.
Ochu said that with the present economic down turn, it was becoming more obvious and apparent that except Nigeria developed the steel sector as an alternative, “we can’t get it right easily”.
“The President’s appointment of Audu is like pushing it to us to say: ‘You’re the custodians of this project, if you don’t develop it, you have no one to blame.’
“I think it’s a wise decision taken by the President.
“It’s now left for us to do it ourselves.
“With the antecedents of Shuaibu’s father, Prince Audu, which is running in the family, I think he’s going to achieve something.”
Dr. Ibrahim Kabiru, a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Prince Abubakar Audu University, Anyigba, also expressed the hope that it was only, but a matter of time Nigeria would witness a boom in the steel industry.
Kabiru, however, advised the steel minister to be focused and committed to the Nigerian Project and make the state proud by putting to bear his experience as a technocrat to the benefit of Kogi State and Nigeria as a whole.