President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that his administration is capable and determined to halt all forms of criminality being perpetuated by bandits, kidnappers, insurgents and other criminal elements that have been threatening the corporate existence of the country.
He gave the assurance on Tuesday when he declared open, the 56th annual international conference and exhibitions, organised by the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan, Oyo State.
Buhari, who was represented by Minister of State for Mining and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, noted that the country is “currently battling various forms of security challenges and working relentlessly in providing innovative solutions to the myriads of challenges that are confronting the citizens. A few of our people had resorted to breaking the law and outright criminality by engaging in banditry and all sorts of illegal activities.
“These nefarious activities have serious implications for the various reform agenda this administration has embarked upon in the mineral, energy and agricultural sectors. It is difficult to achieve any meaningful development in any environment plagued with security challenges.
“The reality of this truth is most obvious in the minerals sector given the fact that mining activities take place in remote localities. Our intelligence gathering efforts has confirmed that most of these criminal elements have infiltrated the mining industry and are using it as means of funding their despicable activities. It is with this understanding that we recently took the painful but necessary decision of banning all forms of mining activities in Zamfara State, where armed banditry has persisted.
“It is also to this end that I directed the Ministers of Mines and Steel Development to strengthen collaboration with state governments and relevant security agencies to ensure the security and safety of all mining areas. In so doing, we can achieve sustainable development of the minerals sector for the peace and security of our great country and good people.
“It is in furtherance of our commitment and resolve to address the security challenges that I recently charged the newly decorated Service Chiefs that they have just few weeks to crush all forms of criminality in the country. We cannot yield the sovereignty of our nation to a bunch of individuals who have refused to see reasons to abandon their criminality.
“The Security Chiefs have been mandated to forcefully bring this criminality to an immediate end. Let me reiterate that the government is more than capable and more than ever determined to halt all forms of criminality perpetuated by these individuals.”
Buhari, however, noted that the current reform being implemented in the oil and gas sector under his watch as Minister of Petroleum Resources have received generous inputs and participations of members of NMGS that are either working in government agencies or private companies. He added that the domestic gas utilisation policy being implemented is one of the derivable benefits of engagements of the Nigerian professionals from all backgrounds, especially those in the geosciences and mining sector.
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, in his Goodwill message, however, advocated delisting of mineral resources in the state from the Exclusive List, so that the state could take charge of them. He added that the Federal Government earlier did the same for Zamfara State and such gesture should be extended to the state.
“As the chief host, I am excited to note that this year’s conference is coming at a time when we are articulating a comprehensive policy framework that will lead to the evolution of a more vibrant industry that mirrors global best practices with respect to the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources… As a resource endowed state, we are committed to unlocking the huge potentials within the solid mineral sector with transparency and accountability towards the development of our nation,” Makinde said.
Group Managing Director,
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, who presented a keynote address, entitled: ‘Expanding the Frontiers of Exploration, Creating New Opportunities for Growth,’ on the occasion, said the corporation and its partners in the Nigerian oil and gas industry space are working to pull down production cost to $10 per barrel. He noted that the feat could not be achieved without the total support of geoscientists and other professionals.
“We know that Nigeria is a natural gas province and therefore our next energy strategy must be built around effective domestic utilization of natural gas and overall monitization of gas. Under the informed leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Government is committed to National Gas Expansion Programme. This is designed to deepen domestic penetration of natural gas to support power sufficiency, industrialization and job creation.
“To achieve this vision, NNPC is expanding the Nation’s gas pipeline infrastructure with the completion of the second Escravos-Lagos Pipeline (ELP-II), the Obiafu-Obriko-Oben (OB3) gas pipeline and the ongoing extension of the Ajaokuta gas pipeline to Abuja, Kaduna and Kano.”
The President, NMGS, Obadiah Nkom, earlier in his welcome address, noted that the society was glad to note that the development in the country’s mineral sector “is on the right track. The sustained energy devoted to the implementation of the Road Map for the industry remains a thing that gladdens our heart as a society.”
Highlights of the programme include conferment of fellowship of the NMGS on Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah; Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva; Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; GMD of NNPC, Mele Kyari and Prof Ojo Adefemi.