By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
Governor Seyi Makinde at the weekend asked the Federal Government to diversify Nigeria economy by tapping the benefits available in the mining industry.
The governor who stated this in Ibadan while receiving the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite, at the Government House, Agodi Ibadan also tasked the Federal government to curb activities of illegal miners in Nigeria.
According to the governor, there is the need for the country to diversify it economy now, saying, “the fact that we have oil and gas reserves in abundance still should not preclude seriousness on our part to develop the solid mineral sector.’ If you have a little bit of unclarity with what people should do, how people should operate, that clarity has to be around the programme and so the local people can invest massively.”
In doing this, Governor Makinde urged the Federal Government to site the hub of the nation’s gemstone market in Oyo state in order to boost the mining industry in Nigeria as the state has already been putting some structures in place to enhance the development of its solid mineral development sector and position the state to benefit maximally from the immense opportunities available in the sector.
The governor stressed that in line with his promise to build infrastructure that targets the economic expansion agenda of the administration, a number of projects are being put up to support the mining industry, saying,”we do have some aspirations, which I think we can collaborate on, especially the gemstone market. It is informal right now but we want to formalise it.”
“Here, we are putting up a number of projects that we think would support the mining industry, especially in the aspect of the expansion of Ibadan Airport. So, quite frankly, if we have the gemstone market, we will basically just take off from there to anywhere in the world and that is what we want to do.”Ibadan used to be a regional capital and we have a fairly developed infrastructure. So, I think you should just give the gemstone market to us and let us sign it up this evening”, he said.
Governor Makinde added, “also, on the mineral surveillance programme, we were looking at doing that on our own, but we think that if we can collaborate with the Federal Government, that will allow us, from the outset, to key into that programme. One of the things that we always say here is that we are so much in a hurry to get things done and if the bureaucracy at the Federal Level will not allow things to happen as fast as we will love to see, then we can go ahead. But we can have the arrangement for the agreement that when you are indeed ready, we will just match that together.”
“We have seen cobalt here and we have also seen ledium here and when I looked at the quality, I think they told me it was about 70 per cent purity, when the entire world is looking for something around 40 per cent. So, for me, even though you classified it as something for the future, I think it is happening right now. Those are opportunities that we really want to wrap our fingers around in Oyo state. I also believe we do have challenges with the illegal miners. Not just here, I believe it is all over the country, but I believe it has to be sorted.”
Speaking, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Adegbite, disclosed that the essence of his visit was to spread the gospel of mining to Oyo State and all over Nigeria as part of the moves towards ensuring diversification of the nation’s economy.
“We are in Oyo State essentially to spread the gospel of mining all over Nigeria. President Buhari, since assumption of office, has tried so much to diversify the economy, especially through the mining sector and agriculture. We have relied so much on oil and gas and whenever the vagaries of the oil prices happen in the international market, Nigeria catches the cold; our economy is in tatters. But to avoid that, there is massive injection of efforts and campaigns into agriculture, which has started yielding results”, he said.
The Minister added, ” if not for the effort of the past four years, I think this pandemic would have caught us in more situations. But because we achieved some certain level of adequacy like feeding ourselves, that is why the strength of the pandemic was not so bad on our people. It could have been worse”.
“We are in Oyo State to bring awareness and to let people know more about what we are doing in the sector. At the same time, we have been doing a lot of international road shows. We go there and publicise mining in Nigeria. Nigeria is known for oil and gas and it is very difficult to convince people otherwise that mining can thrive in Nigeria. But we are getting some tractions because of the investment that has been put into the exploration of minerals in that sector.”ENDS.