The Nigerian Metallurgical Society has appealed to the Federal Government to expedite action in signing its Industrial Bill into law so as to revitalise the steel sector.
Prof. Benjamin Adewuyi, former President of the Society made this call in a statement on Monday in Abuja.
Adewuyi said the Nigerian Metallurgical Industrial Bill (NMIB) was a regulatory framework to ensure that operations in the steel sector were in line with global practices.
According to him, if the bill is signed into law, it will control excesses of steel manufacturers or steel producers as well as curb both economic and human losses in the metallurgical industries.
“Presently, without the bill, little or nothing is being done to cater for the health, safety, environmental conditions and general welfare of workers in the industries who are exposed to industrial hazards.
“The bill is expected among others, to minimize loss of revenue that the country continues to suffer due to non-regulation of the sector,” he said.
He also said that production of substandard materials due to quality manipulation by manufacturers would be reduced.
Adewuyi said that the issue of slave labour, inadequate or substandard safety kits, resulting in serious injuries and even death in some cases without compensation would be minimised.
He explained that the bill was drafted by major stakeholders in the metal sector, spearheaded by the Nigerian Metallurgical Society and African Iron and Steel Association among others.
He added that the bill was sent to the National Assembly after the former Minister of Mines and Steel Development presented it to the Federal Executive Council, which approved it on January 2014.
Adewuyi said after debates on the bill, it was passed by the National Assembly in 2015 and sent to former President Goodluck Jonathan who unfortunately could not sign it before leaving office.
He added that due to some observations later made on the bill by the Nigerian Society of Engineers, President Muhammadu Buhari objected to signing it.
He said the bill was sent back to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development by the former SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal.
However, Adewuyi said that Dr Kayode Fayemi, the minister of mines and steel development received the bill and it had been sent back to the Assembly awaiting approval again.
According to him, the revitalisation of the steel sector must go hand in hand with signing of the Metallurgical Bill into Law.
“This will ensure that the required regulatory framework is put in place, especially by the time Ajaokuta steel plant commenced operation.
” We must not be concerned only with the profit accruable from the operation of the steel plant but also on the safety and health of the workers.
“Hence, we must begin to put in place necessary regulations that will cater for the welfare of the workers in the metallurgical sector.
He, therefore, specially appealed to his professional colleagues to see beyond individual professional interest and allow the bill to be passed into law.