THE Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, has stated that some African countries have continued to account for slow phase of socio-economic development in spite of their vast minerals.
Adegbite, represented by Mr Obadiah Nkom, the Director-General, Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office, said this at the first International Conference and Exhibitions of the Nigerian Society of Economic Geologists (NSEG) in Abuja on Monday.
The theme of the event was: “Economic Diversification, The Role of the Geoscientist.”
He said Nigeria and some Africa countries had continued to suffer under-utilisation of their minerals in spite of their vast mineral resources, adding that the situation was unacceptable.
“Our country is known to operate a mono economy where oil accounts for almost 90 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings.
“This present administration found this disturbing and promised to find urgent solutions to redress the challenges.
“I consider the theme of this event as strategic and timely, given the compelling urgency to diversify our economy for the prosperity of the nation.
“The theme seeks to define the roles of the critical stakeholders in developing the minerals sector, key among which are the government, private sector and the professionals driving the mineral sector development, process,” he said.
The minister said as part of the Federal Government’s effort to reposition the Solid Minerals Sector, the ministry in 2016, identified some gaps such as insufficient geo-scientific data and geological knowledge.
Others are weak implementation and enforcement of mining law and regulations, poorly regulated and informal artisans and small-scale mining sub-sector as critical binding constraints to the sector’s development.
He said those gaps propelled the ministry to immediately begin the process of preparing a detailed sector Roadmap aimed at advancing certain strategic objectives.
He said the process, would eventually result in creation of a globally competitive sector, capable of contributing to wealth creation,
provision of jobs, among others.
Adegbite said the private sector on its part, played the role of owner and operator of commercial mining entities and businesses.
He added that this showed the high premium, which government placed on the private sector in driving
economic development activities.
“The geoscientist plays such an invaluable role, which cannot be overstated in driving mineral exploration activities.”
He said such activities always led to discoveries of minerals and preparation of definitive feasibility reports on the viability of mineral reserves.
“The works of the geoscientists produce the treasured mineral raw materials that form the backbone of modern-day industrial revolution.”
He called on geoscientists and stakeholders to support government’s policy and efforts in diversifying the nation’s economy, using the mineral sector as one of the key drivers.
He added that the outcome of such efforts would benefit Nigerians and the unborn generation.
Mr Alabo Charles, the President, Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), said the Federal Government had identified mining and agriculture as viable options in its effort of diversifying the nation’s economy from dependence on oil and gas.
“A lot has been done in providing the necessary framework and conducive environment for mining to play a pivotal role in this regard.
“Although Nigeria is committed to a system of free enterprise, government should continue to play vital roles in the mining industry, apart from its traditional regulatory functions.
“The Federal Government should also supply some vital information necessary to stimulate and encourage investment for the optimum utilisation of the huge mineral wealth of our country.
“The Nigerian Constitution gives the Federal Government control of all natural resources, meaning that there is no private ownership of solid minerals in Nigeria.
Dr Abdulrasaq Garba, Director-General, Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) said the event ought to be staged in 2021 but was postponed partly due to COVID-19 restrictions and funding challenges, among others.
Garba, who also doubles as President of the Nigerian Society of Economic Geologists (NSEG) added that the strategic objectives, professional targets and timelines set as enshrined in the constitution of the society needed to be pursued and accomplished.
“We need to brainstorm on the emerging challenges arising from the dynamic operating environment of our profession, especially in the face of the new normal, occasioned by the much-talked-about need to diversify the Nigerian economy.
“It is in the light of this that we have invited professional experts in the geosciences and external stakeholders to share their knowledge and experience with us on the way forward. (NAN)