Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
The Federal Government and Kebbi State Government have flagged off the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining and Biometric Data Capture and Enrollment Exercise in Yauri Local Government Area of Kebbi State.
The programme, a federal initiative to be operated by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI), is partnering with the Kebbi State Government to formalise the artisanal mining groups for the much-needed support and capacity building aimed at upscaling their processes and to create more jobs and enhanced incomes.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch Olamilekan Adegbite, speaking after the flag-off ceremony in Yauri, said the initiative was to formalise the artisanal gold miners cooperatives with a view towards supporting them.
Adegbite said the steps taken would lead to improved practices, access to finance and equipment, create jobs and sanitise the artisanal mining operations.
The Minister was represented at the event by the Director, ASM, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Patrick Ojeka, who said: “undoubtedly, it will grow the economy of the state through diversification into solid minerals development.”
He explained that the flag-off ceremony was part of ongoing process to support the formalisation and integration of artisanal and small scale gold mining activities into Nigeria’s legal, economic and institutional framework thereby promoting Nigerian mineral processing and value-added industries that strengthen backward and forward linkages, and resolve any institutional and legal barriers that currently exists within the value chain.
Adegbite announced that centralised buying centres would be established within the state, with the CBN as the sole off-taker, while assuring that the programme would smoothly be implemented and measures are taken to ensure sustainability.
He thanked the people and government of Kebbi State for their support and cooperation.
In her brief address on the program, the Executive Secretary of the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF), Hajiya Fatima Umaru Shinkafi, explained that Kebbi and Osun states were selected to kick start the pilot project.
She said the programme was part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic diversification agenda through the Anchor Borrowers Programme, through which Kebbi had excelled, and the Solid Minerals sector.
She said: “President Buhari wants to create more jobs in rural areas of Nigeria in line with his mission to create a million jobs.”
Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi said the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) would enrol the first batch of artisanal gold miners under the pilot scheme.
The Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, in his remarks said President Buhari was convinced about the capacity of artisanal gold miners to be given the opportunity to operate properly, legally and safely so that more gold can be produced at market prices.
He urged the miners who will be registered to be good ambassadors, to organise themselves and properly use whatever assistance that comes their way, appealing to them to ensure that they do their business in a transparent manner for the benefit of their families, state and Nigeria.
Governor Bagudu is the Vice Chairman of the national steering committee of the programme.