Remarks by President Jonathan at the Commissioning of WEMPCO Steel Mills in Ogun State
1. I am delighted to be here today to commission this Cold Steel Rolling Mill built by Wempco Steel Mills Limited, which is probably the single largest private sector investment in the steel sector in Nigeria.
2. This event marks yet another milestone in our determination to reposition our steel sector to play a pivotal role in our march towards industrialization and national transformation. I, therefore, congratulate Wempco Group for this huge and productive investment.
3. By constructing this 700,000 metric tones per annum Cold Rolled Steel Mill here in Ibafon, Ogun State, to compliment your existing investments in the country, WEMPCO has demonstrated strong belief and confidence in our economy. I thank you for keeping faith with our country.
4. Steel is at the heart of any national economic development endeavour. As we all know, it is one of the most important materials used widely for both domestic and industrial purposes throughout the world. A vibrant steel sector contributes to GDP growth, facilitates exploitation of natural resources and generates economic activities in downstream industries. It also promotes job creation, the acquisition of technical skills, transfer of technology and the provision of machine parts and tools. In fact, no nation can industrialize without a vibrant iron and steel sector.
5. Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, with increasing globalization and the growing strategic importance of Nigeria as a key emerging market, we are ever determined to provide the necessary incentives and support for the growth of the private sector.
6. We are committed to improving our investment climate by providing and upgrading necessary infrastructure such as power, roads and rail. Our aim is to keep attracting Foreign and Local Direct Investment into key sectors of the economy that will create jobs, stimulate private sector growth, continuous technology transfer, and ultimately economic growth and wealth for Nigerians and Nigeria.
7. Government will continue to encourage investors and investments in this and other sectors for the good of our country and her great people. We shall continue to support genuine investors that show interest in investing in Nigeria. We expect investors to reciprocate this gesture by showing greater dedication as well as transparency in their investment operations.
8. We are also working assiduously to bring the security challenges currently facing us under control. Reports from around the world indicate an unacceptable manifestation of insecurity largely orchestrated by individuals who have no love for peace and harmony among members of humanity. In this regard, we will continue to collaborate with our friends and allies to bring this menace of insecurity to an end.
9. Ladies and Gentlemen, the steel sector offers immense economic opportunities for our country, which we have not fully exploited. This administration, however, aims to reposition this industry. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in conjunction with other MDAs, has developed an Industrial revolution Plan, which has identified the Iron and Steel Industry as a focal sector. This plan aims to develop the complete ecosystem of this sub-sector.
10. In addition, this administration has approved the Minerals and Metals Development Road Map, which was recently presented to the general public stipulating time-bound targets for the Minerals & Metals Sector. This document articulates the strategies to be adopted to ensure the accomplishment of the set objectives of increasing steel production in Nigeria, which is targeted at 3 million tonnes of liquid steel production by the end of this year and progressively increase to 12 million tonnes of liquid steel by the year 2020.
11. I would like to assure existing and prospective investors of government support as we collectively strive for self-sufficiency in local steel production. I strongly believe that self-sufficiency will open major downstream sector activities with the attendant massive job opportunities and economic empowerment for our engineers, technicians, artisans, fabricators alike.
12. You all may recall that a few years ago, we had less than 5 functioning steel rolling mills and no cold rolled steel mill, but today there are more than 15 functioning steel rolling mills producing reinforced bars and 3 functioning cold rolled steel mills producing cold rolled flat sheet of which Wempco is one of them.
13. It is my hope that Wempco will continue to strive to expand its current production capacity to gradually meet the nation’s demand for flat steel sheets. I want to encourage Wempco to within the shortest possible time embark on full backward integration so as to produce Hot Rolled steel, which is the major raw material for producing Cold Rolled steel.
14. May I seize this opportunity to emphasize the need to patronize made-in-Nigeria products. We must support our industries and change our appetite for foreign made goods. This way, we shall all contribute our individual quotas towards the economic growth of our country and jobs and wealth creation for our kith and kin.
15. I urge you all to join hands with the Government to pursue the goals and aspirations of the Transformation Agenda as this remains the blue print to our economic emancipation. It is on this note, I wish to congratulate once again, the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of Wempco Steel Mill on this outstanding accomplishment.
16. Finally, I congratulate the Governor, the Government and people of Ogun State on another landmark achievement in this great state. I thank you for sustaining a conducive and business friendly environment that promotes economic activities in the state. I look forward to coming again in the very near future.
17. Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen, I now have the pleasure to formally commission WEMPCO STEEL MILLS COMPANY LIMITED’S COLD ROLLED STEEL PLANT to the glory of God and the benefit of the economy, investors and all Nigerians.
18. I thank you.
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