…urges Nigerians to support decision
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, while reacting to the closure of land borders in the country said the Federal Government’s action gives hope to the mining sector for high productivity, performance, and elimination of smuggling activities.
Adegbite made the assertion in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Ayodeji Adeyemi, where he also said President Muhammadu Buhari’s bold and right decision will greatly tackle and reduce smuggling of illegally mined solid minerals out of the country, and that will also attract foreign investors to the sector.
He added that the decision and action by the Buhari-led administration might seem too harsh on citizens now including neighbouring countries, but remains the best way to bring the economy out of the woods and place Nigerian entrepreneurs on a productive track that would encourage backward integration and wealth creation, which will lead to job creation on the long run with current measures put in place.
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.