Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti
Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi and the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, have called for stakeholders’ buy-in for the exploitation of economic opportunities in Nigeria’s mining sector.
Speaking in Ado Ekiti at the closing session of the third edition of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development (NCMMRD), the Governor challenged the Council to fashion out ways to engage stakeholders in the sector on how to contribute their quota so that the sector can contribute at least 5 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
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The theme of the three-day Council meeting which which ended at the weekend was ‘Nigerian Minerals and Metal Sector: Spectrum for Investment Opportunities for Economic Growth and Development’.
Dr Fayemi, who renewed his call for the diversification of the country’s economy, stressed the need to guide against unsafe mining practices and reduce instances where individuals are exploiting the state’s resources to the detriment of socio-economic development of the country.
Fayemi, himself a former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, said the Buhari administration is giving a lot of attention to the mining sector, in addition to the support from development partners, which led to the $150 million mining diversification fund from the World Bank.
He stressed the need for an increase in funding for the sector because of its capital intensive nature, adding that this would attract more investors and give them confidence that government was not lagging behind.
“We need to continue to advocate for diversification of the economy. There are economic opportunities in mining and mineral resources development if properly harnessed. We need to guide against unsafe mining practices and support our artisanal miners to better organise themselves and reduce the incidence where individuals are exploiting the state resources to the detriment of socio-economic development of our nation,” he said.
“The goal in the Mining Roadmap is that mining would contribute five percent (5%) to our national GDP by 2025 and help diversify the nation’s economy. It is my expectation that this Council would spend time to devise strategies and policies that would ensure acceleration of mining contribution to the national GDP.”
He challenged the Council to proffer ways of engaging mining stakeholders to ensure they contribute their quota towards the growth of the sector as he expressed optimism that the outcome of the conference would receive the support of all stakeholders.
The Governor also tasked the Council to device strategies and policies that would ensure that the sector contributed significantly to the country’s GDP.
Discussions at the meeting focused on strategies for sustainable mining and value addition, addressing security challenges in the sector and how to foster synergy among the three tiers of government, among others.
The meeting had in attendance commissioners and permanent secretaries in charge of mining and mineral resources from the 36 states of the federation, academia, private sector, security agencies, leaders of mining unions and other stakeholders.
Adegbite, in his address, said that the sector had in the past made very little impact “for lack of broad based buy-in and support from critical stakeholders,” but thanked Fayemi for initiating the Mining Roadmap which was aimed at unleashing the enormous potential in the mining sector in 2016.
The Minister said the major highlights of Fayemi’s Mining Roadmap are achievable through stakeholders’ engagement and would ultimately increase mining contribution to the GDP while also providing shared prosperity to all the stakeholders.
Adegbite said many well intentioned policies and programmes initiated in the past could not make much impact due to lack of broad based buy-in and support from critical stakeholders.
“We have been mobilizing all important stakeholders in the mining eco-system working together with government at all levels to achieve the desired objectives. It may interest you that the mining ecosystem in Nigeria is diverse with 44 different minerals of varying economic grades and qualities. Hence, investment opportunities are endless in the sector. I want to reassure that Nigeria has one of the most friendly investment policies in the world with high assurance of return on investment. I call on members of the public to leverage on government’s liberal policies and reap maximum benefits,” he said.
While disclosing that the ministry has engaged some stakeholders on the formalisation of Artisanal Miners into cooperative groups, the Minister said no fewer than 1,346 artisanal mining operators have formed cooperatives in readiness to access small; scale mining licenses.
Adegbite said under the government’s mining financing support fund, qualified artisanal mining operators could access between N100,000 and N10 million in business support.
He thanked the government of Ekiti State for providing a conducive environment for the hosting of the Council meeting; adding that Fayemi had indeed demonstrated his commitment to national development beyond just being a former Minister of Mines and Steels Development.
In his goodwill message, the Chairman of Ekiti State council of traditional rulers and Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Ajibade Alabi, assured that all traditional rulers in the State would cooperate with the government in actualizing its set goals for the mining sector.
Oba Alabi warned illegal miners to steer clear of Ekiti State as local community leaders are interested in mining activities that would bring national prosperity as well as address the environmental challenges that would accompany the activities.