ON Friday, June 9, Anambra State Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo inaugurated a firm, Milton Steel Manufacturing, in the state.
At the occasion, Soludo said the company was the first steel production firm in the entire South-East region.
“Today, I commissioned Milton Steel Manufacturing Company founded by Hon. Innocent Ojike (Ojicam), who is also the company’s majority shareholder.
“The company, which is the first steel facility in the south-east of Nigeria, is located in Awkuzu, Oyi LGA. It will manufacture rods and steel of all sizes, one of the basic resource required for full industrialization,” the governor said in a message published on his Facebook page.
The ICIR reports that the region, currently battling insecurity, is one of Nigeria’s economic hubs. Among other reports it has done on insecurity in the South-East, this organisation, in a two-part investigation, in January, exposed how the region pays a heavy price for insecurity.
Speaking on the unveiling of Milton Steel Manufacturing Company, Soludo said his administration’s objective was to transition from a primarily informal commercial sector to an industrialised one, a technology hub, and a spot for leisure and entertainment.
His words, “As a government, we stand ready to provide every assistance. We have signed an agreement with EEDC (Enugu Electricity Distribution Company) to provide the state with 24-hour electricity. We will put in necessary infrastructure to make this happen now that power is on the concurrent list.
“My primary responsibility as a governor is to serve as the chief marketing officer for everything produced in Anambra. The best way to create jobs is to buy items made in the state. When you buy products made in the diaspora, you are creating jobs in other countries.
“I am here to celebrate three things: the company, industry, and the homeland consciousness of the founder. This is another reminder to Ndi Anambra in diaspora and, indeed the world, that Anambra is ready for business.”
Meanwhile, The ICIR objects to his claim that the company he inaugurated was the first steel producer in the South-East.
Claim:Soludo says Milton Steel Manufacturing is the first steel production company in the South-East.
He published the claim on his Facebook Page, which has over 248,000 followers.
Many of his followers lauded his action and speech.
The findings show that other steel production firms operated in the South-East, including Anambra State, before the inauguration of Milton Steel.
One of the firms is Emeife Industries Ltd (EIL). This firm is based in Onitsha, one of Anambra’s major cities.
Speaking with The ICIR on Saturday, June 10, the EIL’s business development manager, Okafor Nkemdirim, said the firm had been operating since 2006, distributing its products across Nigeria.
Similarly, Izundu Wire and Steel Industry still operates partially in Anambra State, where it is located, according to its chairman, Nwakibia Inno Izundu.
The ICIR reporter contacted Izundu on the telephone on Saturday, June 10. He disagreed with Soludo’s claim but said expatriates make business difficult for them, and the government was not helping local industries.
He said, “The Chinese people have taken everything from us. Our government doesn’t want to help us. They like to help foreigners.”
He said things were difficult for the local firms, and they work at a slow pace.
Another company contacted by The ICIR in the state is Danchris Steel Rods Company. An official who did not give his name at the firm said the firm existed but was not working.
According to the company’s profile on the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), it was registered on April 29, 2019.
Other platforms keeping companies’ records in Nigeria showed the firm has RC number 2875888.
Meanwhile, a source at the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), who pleaded anonymity, said, “There is no steel plant currently operating in the South-East, but there were some before,” which are now moribund.
The governor’s claim that Milton Steel Manufacturing is the first steel facility in the South-East is false. The ICIR reports that steel production companies operated in the region before the launch of the new firm.