After finishing from the College of Medicine Ibadan, in 1999, Dr. Kola Ojo decided to go into mining in 2000 in Jos, Plateau State. Dr Ojo started with a mineral called tantalite, and then progressed into gemstones.
He invested heavily in gemstones, setting up the first big lapidary in Nigeria from where he trained not less than 200 Nigerian on this art of cutting and polishing of gemstones. As the Chairman of the 54 year old Nigerian Mining Association (NMA), whose number is estimated to be anywhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000, said through the Secretary of the Association, that the revalidation exercise is a welcome development
â€œWhat is the stand of Nigerian Miners Association on the recent revalidation of mining titles by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development?â€ Sweet Crude asked
â€œI wish to identify with Government over this actionâ€, he told Sweet Crude
â€œWhy we are supporting the Government is that prior to now there is no legal instrument to guide mining in Nigeria. In serous mining destinationsâ€, he said,â€ you cannot operate without some form of certification or a mining license. So now that the genuine and serous miners have been identified and given license over the fake ones, I think our Association has everything to celebrateâ€, he said
Asked if he was not concerned that some members of the Association had their titled revoked, he said that all of them where asked to furnish the Ministry with update of their documents and scope of activities on their titles. â€œThose who met the criteria passed the validation; those who did not failed. Some did not even appear for the validation
â€œI want to tell you that we are happy with the developmentâ€, he said. â€œIt is the right step in the right directionâ€, he added.
He however appealed to the Federal government to extend the time given for the payment of fees on the revalidated titles.
â€œWe would want government to extend the deadline by another four to six weeksâ€, he said. â€œTo some of us, it would not be easy to raise that money within the given three weeks, given the condition of our business environment todayâ€, he said.
He also appealed to government to look into the case of some of their members who have not been revalidated.
â€œGovernment should revisit their case in the spirit of encouraging them to operate legallyâ€, he said
â€œThe Miners Association of Nigeria will continue to work with government so that we can have a robust mining sector that Nigeria was known for in the pastâ€, he said.
Number of members
â€œI can’t give you the actual figure, but we are in the region of hundreds of thousands. The problem is that a lot of people have been reluctant to come out.
The industry is not well structured here. People mine, sell and buy raw minerals and ship out and pay no royalties, and you want them to officially come out and announce that this is what they are doing? No! The industry is not well structured. There is one teething problem that we face.
But I want to inform you that as the new Chairman of the association, I was given six-months tenure and one of my mandate is this very issue of determining who are the real Nigerian miners. But, with the developments now, I believe that Nigeria is getting right and we would soon be there.â€