The Nigerian Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi has said that the revitalization of the Aluminium Smelting Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) in Ikot-Abasi, Akwa Ibom State in Southern Nigeria is crucial to the diversification plan of the Federal Government.
Dr Fayemi disclosed this to journalists shortly after taking a tour of facilities in the plant reputed to be the biggest in Africa, said revitalizing the plant would help the government’s import substitution strategy to boost the production of Aluminium in the country
Fayemi, who undertook the tour of the various plants and the harbour in the complex, with the Minister of State, Hon Abubakar Bawa bwari, decried that the huge national asset was left to rot, in spite of its potential to help boost the economy and create employment opportunities.
“We cannot have such a huge national asset like ALSCON and allow it to go into ruins, and If privatisation must work, there must be sanctity of contractual agreement,” he said.
Dr Fayemi said the ministry was ready to assist the company in resolving all administrative issues it might have with some organizations including the Nigeria Export processing Authority (NEPZA), the Nigerian Gas Company and the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), in the bid to ensure that the plant comes alive again.
“This is a government that believes in the rule of law, so we cannot influence the judiciary over the matter. But we will help to resolve all other administrative issues that may arise between the company and other organisations in the interest of our economy,” he added.
The Minister, who was conducted round the complex by the Managing Director of RUSAL-ALSCON, Mr Dmitriy Zaviyalov, lauded the Russian company managing the complex for ensuring that the machines were kept in good shape despite the absence of production activities, occasioned by a legal tussle over ownership.
“It is in our interest for the issues to be resolved. I am sure the Vice President, who is also the Chair of the Privatisation Council of Nigeria, would invite all the parties concerned once I brief him on my findings,” Fayemi added.
He however said that government was fully prepared to tackle other administrative issues that might have crippled production processes at the plant, once the legal aspect had been resolved.