By HENRY UMORU & INALEGWU SHAIBU
ABUJA—CHAIRMAN, Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, PDP, Nasarawa West, said, Thursday, that if the Federal Government must achieve its target of becoming one of the top 20 economies of the world by the year 2020, there was the urgent need to pay serious attention to the development of solid minerals.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Senator Adamu, noted that the nation’s over reliance on oil had become worrisome to the country, adding that it had become very imperative for Nigeria to look for alternative sources of getting revenue, such as the solid mineral sector.
Meanwhile, Senate President, David Mark, while inaugurating the Committee on Solid Minerals, said the time was ripe to prove in Nigeria that besides oil, the country could survive.
He also stressed that emphasis must be on solid mineral, adding that cases of illegal mining had been on the increase and must be checked, as Nigeria was losing millions of Naira to those involved.
Mark said: “We have enough solid minerals to equate revenue from oil. Nigeria can survive on solid minerals if it is properly harnessed and managed. That we have oil is not enough reason to undermine other natural endowments. Because government is not paying enough attention to the resources, illegal mining has been taking place.
“There is the need for government to check the situation so that anybody caught would be made to pay. If there is any legislation that is required to back up the activities of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, we would be ready to do that and quickly too.”
Speaking further, Senator Adamu, former governor of Nasarawa State said, “most of us remember with nostalgia that before the advent of petroleum, solid minerals and agriculture sustained our economy.
In the defunct Plateau, Benue and Onitsha provinces, tin, columbite and coal kept the economies of these areas and contributed greatly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP. Revenue from these sectors was partly used to explore and develop the oil sector.
But the lure of oil resources made us to abandon these sectors, to our obvious detriment.”
Senator Adamu who noted that though oil has been a blessing to Nigeria, said that the generality of Nigerians are of the view that as a nation, we must diversify our policy into other sources of revenue, especially solid minerals, adding, “a number of nations depend on their mineral wealth either as source of revenue or a source of raw materials for sustained economic activities.
The foundation of economies of countries such as Sweden, Canada, Australia, Chile, Peru, South Africa, Angola, Mozambique is built largely on the sustainable development of their mineral resources. ‘’
According to him, there were Solid Mineral deposits in Nigeria like gold, coal, Tantalite, Lead-Zinc, Bitumen, Iron Ore and barite, just as he assured Nigerians that the Committee would deliver on the expectations of ensuring that Nigeria moves from over dependence on oil.