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Abandonment of Osogbo Steel Rolling Mill heightens unemployment

By Michael Ofulue, Osogbo

The total neglect of the Nigerian Machine Tool and Osogbo Steel Rolling, is causing serious concern to many Nigerians.

 The two big establishments owned by the Federal Government are situated adjacent each other along Ikirun road in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.

They were established on April 30,1983.

Reports had it that shortly after their establishment, the government and the builders signed an agreement on how to train workers that would later takeover the daily operations of the companies.

The Steel Mill has a complex and housing facilities for selected workers who were employed to work there.

According to findings, the Steel Mill and Nigerian Machine Tool, if properly managed and put to use would employ over 20,000 people.

However, it is no longer news that the Osogbo Steel Mill has been abandoned for years. The Company has become a hideout for criminals and a place that harbours reptiles. The aim and objective of establishing the company was purposely to  produce steel and rod.

Both companies which were national assets were sold to private investors by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo through the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) which was reportedly  chaired by the former Vice-President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar during tenure of the former Governor Olagunsoye Oyiniola of Osun state.

The Osogbo Steel Rolling Mill has remained moribund while the Nigerian Machine Tools has continued to render skeletal services to the people.

This cardinal objective had since been defeated following a long time abandonment which, investigation revealed, was caused by the privatisation. After the companies were reportedly sold to private individuals they failed to properly manage it very well thereby defeating its purpose.

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Our correspondent’s visit to the site of the Seel Rolling Mill, showed that the place has been overgrown with weeds as no human being was found at the premises of the company.The entrance gate was under lock and key.

Also, our correspondent was at the Nigerian Machine Tool where he met three gatemen on duty who said there was a meeting going on by the Managing Director and some departmental heads with officials from Abuja.

One of the security men who did not want his name in print, disclosed that the company has been working since the time it was privatized.

He said, “We deal with steel, repair of machines for companies, among other things being carried out by the company.

 The abandonment of these companies has resulted to loss of employment for thousands of people of Osun and deprived the government of revenue generation. It has also deprived Nigeria materials for industries to create employment for the people.

One of the major problems we are facing in Nigeria today is unemployment, high rate of poverty and others.

While saying privatising the companies has not helped in the growth of the companies, the security man called on the Federal government to revisit the privatisation processes and see best way to revive the ailing companies.

The House of Representatives has called for the review of the privatisation of Osogbo Steel Rolling Mills and the Nigerian Machine Tools.

Reports had it that the neglect of these companies meant to provide jobs for over 20,000 people but their neglect has caused a serious negative effect on the people and the economy of the state and the nation in general, hence there is urgent need to review the sales of these companies.

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A mechanic close to the Steel Rolling Mill who simply identified himself as Akeem, said the company had been abandoned over 15 years. “As I speak with you most of the machines and equipment the company was using before are now moribund.

According to him, the moribund company was recently visited by the State Governor Ademola Adeleke to access the situation with a view to finding solution and possibly bring it back to life.

His words “This place has long been abandoned during the then Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola and the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjor. If the companies, especially Steel Rolling Mill, is functioning it would have employed many jobless youths in our community.

Akeem blamed the privatisation on reason why the company died, adding if Federal government is ready to resurrect it, it must first review the privatisation processes and ensure that ailing companies are brought back to life.

Also speaking, Jimoh Akanbi, a resident hinted that the abandonment of those companies has resulted to loss of employment for thousands of people of Osun.

“One of the major problems we are facing in Nigeria today is unemployment, high rate poverty and others.

“The question being asked is, has privatization of these companies helped in any way in solving the unemployment problems bedeviling the state? Has privatisation met the aspirations of many in the community and the entire State? Have the private individuals who bought the companies been able to meet the conditions and terms of reference? if the answers are no, therefore there is urgent need to review the privatisation”, he added.

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It was learnt that the 10th House of Representatives Committees on Privatisation and Commercialisation, Industry and Steel has set up committee to  probe the events surrounding the abandonment of the Osogbo Steel Rolling Company and Nigerian Machine Tool.

Reports said the committees were mandated to summits its report within  four-week timeframe for further legislative actions, just as the House urged the Bureau of Public Enterprises to embark on regular inspections and monitoring of government-owned enterprises acquired by investors, of which Osogbo Steel Rolling Mills was among.

While many are hoping for effective federal government intervention on reviving ailing companies in Nigeria, residents in Osogbo believed that it will solve the problem of youth unemployment and boost the revenue generation of the government.

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