By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, Wednesday, hailed closure of land borders by President Muhammadu Buhari, as it will curtail the smuggling of illegally mined solid minerals from the country.
Adegbite stated this in a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Ayodeji Adeyemi, where he said the decision by the federal government will add more value to the economy and also enhance growth and development of local industries, entrepreneurs, and creation of jobs.
He also said the nefarious activities of bad elements within the sector would drastically reduce based on the measures put in place at the borders.
He said: “The Federal Government’s resolute resolve on the closure of its national borders, despite pressures mounted by neighbouring countries to reopen them is highly commendable.
“The decision had become necessary due to the nefarious activities of smugglers at the borders, which has been affecting the economy negatively. The nation had begun to reap the benefit of the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“For the mining sector, the closure of borders had helped to curtail the smuggling of illegally mined gemstone minerals from the country.
“We are aware of several instances in which illegally mined gold and other precious gemstones are smuggled through our land borders to neighbouring countries, where they are flown on private jets to countries in Asia and the Middle East and sold at their market value.
“The country is being deprived of the actual royalties that should necessarily accrue to it due to these nefarious activities. No government can sit still and watch as revenues that should accrue to it legally are being lost to agents outside the countries who do not wish us well.
“Hence, I support President Buhari’s decision to keep the borders locked until we can sit down and reach a sensible accord with our neighbouring countries that would be beneficial to all.”
He also maintained that Nigerians should support the decision of the federal government as it will positively impact their lives and businesses in the country instead of enriching businesses in other countries.
“In the long run, this decision would be beneficial to the economy, as it would lead to more revenue generation for the government which can then be channeled to build more roads and hospitals. And of course, it would also encourage rice production in the country”, he added.