By Aniekan Udofia
The Member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr Onofiok Luke, has called on the Federal Government to revive the abandoned Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State.
Mr Luke who made the call in a motion during today’s (February 25th) plenary pointed out that the aluminium producing plant, which serviced the Nigerian market with aluminium products and and its allied industries provided jobs for thousands of Nigerians, is lying waste for several years.
He lamented why the company in its hey days between 1997 and 1999 provided employment for over 1,820 permanent workers and over 4,000 casual workers should be allowed to rot away in utter neglect.
It will be recalled that ALSCON stopped operation on 6 June 1999 due to irreconcilable differences between some shareholders coupled with other associated problems of lack of working capital, insufficient gas supply and non-dredging of the Imo River.
The Lawmaker said that despite the privatisation of ALSCON in 2004, there has not been any significant improvement in the operations of the company, which is not producing any aluminium at the moment.
According to him, “the former staff of ALSCON and their families are facing hardship due to Federal Government’s failure to pay the retrenched staff their terminal benefits of N 2.3billion, having only paid N4million to them”
Mr Luke urged the Federal Government to ensure the resumption of operations by the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria and to pay all the former staff of the company the remaining terminal benefits. He added that the House should invite the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise to brief the Committee on Steel Development on the current state of ALSCON.
The House also resolved that the Supreme Court judgement on the ownership of Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) be obeyed.