By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA – The Federal Government has explained that the ongoing reform in the mining sector is part of efforts to diversify Nigeria â€™s oil-mono-product economy.
The Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan made the remark while declaring open and delivering a keynote address at the 49th Annual Conference of The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in Abuja .
He pointed out that the theme of the Conference: â€œPromotion and Development of Solid Minerals Exploration and Exploitation â€“ A Veritable Strategy Towards Economic Diversificationâ€ does not only underscore the Associationâ€™s high support to the non-oil export through trade and investment opportunities but it is also in line with the economic policy of this administration to diversify the economy from oil as encapsulated in various government policies and programmes including the 7 â€“ Point Agenda, Vision 20:2020 and Millennium Development Goals.
He said that the theme of the conference was also timely and defines patriotic enthusiasm for productive partnership with the Federal Government in its efforts at consolidating and creating the foundation for the economic re-engineering of our country.
Jonathan , who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, AlhajiÂ A.K. Mohammed, noted that the development of mineral resources and mining in Nigeria have strong relevance for agriculture, infrastructural development, industry, commerce, science and technology, health, environment and many other things.
Speaking during the event, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, said that the lead lecture was not only auspicious but very timely because of the strategic drive towards the Mining sector over a definite period into becoming the second largest contributor to the nationâ€™s Gross Domestic Product aside oil.
The Minister disclosed that in view of Nigeria â€™s vast solid mineral endowment, the Ministry has placed a special focus on the exploration and exploitation of seven (7) strategic minerals: Bitumen, Coal, Iron-ore, Limestone, Barytes, Gold, and Lead/Zinc.
The Minister pointed out the implications of a mono-product economy as: Mono- product or highly concentrated economies are subject toÂ greater economic volatility from external shocks; Volatility in concentrated economies not only spawns structural unemployment issues but also engenders systemic risks; Poor economic diversity is linked to low productivity and competitiveness; Diversification is a critical component of any sustainable economy.
Alison-Madueke observed that as the Mining sector is being revived towards the diversification of the nationâ€™s economy, the country should stand to gain the following: employment generation, community development, tax contribution to the nationâ€™s economy, infrastructural development, and foreign currency generation.
The Minister reiterated that due to the critical role of responsible mining towards the socio-economic development of Nigeria , the necessary legislative frameworks and enabling environment are being created to achieve that goal.
Alison-Madueke who was represented at the event by Engr. Sheikh Goni, the Director, Mining Cadastre Department, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development,disclosed that to date, the ministry has identified approximately forty five (45) solid mineral types across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory .
As part of the reform measures in the sector, the Minister disclosed that Nigeria â€™s Minerals and Mining Act of 2007 was based on successful mining jurisdiction around the world.
She said that a review of Nigeria â€™s Mining Regulations had been concluded by the Ministry of Justice and ready for implementation in the sector.
Alison-Madueke disclosed that the Ministry is partnering with the World Bank in implementing intensive on-going capacity building for staffers of the Ministry, Artisanal and Small Scale Miners across the country to ensure efficient and expeditionâ€™s service delivery.
The Minister disclosed at the forum that the Ministry had completed 95% of the airborne magnetic survey of the country, adding that some of the interpreted results will be presented to members of the public next week.
In his remarks, the National President of the Nigerian Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Dr, Simon Okolo said it is universally acknowledged that the ability of a nation to generate foreign exchange determines the strength of the nationâ€™s currency and of the economy, especially where the sources of the foreign exchange are from diverse sources, and not from a single product as is the case in Nigeria.
The National President of the Association said it is our sincere believe that this occasion will provide the much desired medium for both the government and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and other Multilateral Agencies to critically discuss and explore effective ways of growing our National economy in a systematic and holistic manner, given the goals and objectives which the current democratic Administration has put before the nation.
Dr. Okolo said that to realize the great potentials in the solid minerals sub-sector in Nigeria , however, there should be easy access to Solid Minerals Venture Risk Funds and possibly a specialized Mineral Development Bank, adequately supported by government guarantees and grants.
He reiterated that there should be robust advocacy and awareness campaigns on the vast potentials of Nigeria â€™s Minerals to be carried out by all the three tiers of government and other relevant stakeholders on continuous basis throughout Nigeria .