Nigeria Sitting on Unearthed Wealth, Says Fayemi

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• As ministry partners Australia on mining

Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has disclosed that Nigeria is sitting on unearthed wealth that should be tapped to contribute feasible solutions for the greater good of the nation and its citizenry.

The Minister disclosed this recently while declaring open a two-day capacity building workshop organised by the Australian High Commission in collaboration with the ministry in Abuja, with the theme, ‘Policy and Capacity Building Workshop for a Successful and Sustainable Mining Sector.’

Speaking through the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mohammed Abbas, Fayemi noted that Nigeria and Australia have enjoyed a long history of commercial, cultural and diplomatic links built up over the years, adding that not very long ago, in 2012 to be precise, Australia and Nigeria signed an MoU covering political economic, commercial, technical and cultural cooperation.

He noted that the workshop was aimed at reforming and improving the ministry’s administrative and regulatory capacity to govern the sector for growth and increased revenue, economic opportunities and jobs for the teeming youth.

According to Fayemi, “We recognise that the imperative of cooperation has never been more urgent as we pursue maximal growth for the sector. The economic fortunes and aspirations of sovereign countries in the world over are now so interconnected and inseparable.”

He emphasised that, “In Nigeria, we consider it imperative to go beyond our borders to engage ever more intensely with the matrix of knowledge, experience and global support. In an interconnected world, no nation can pursue its economic interests as an island. We must make the earth work for us in a sustainable manner.”
He stressed that the workshop was an avenue for sharing experiences, ideas and knowledge in the industry between the two countries and a tangible and practical demonstration of what Nigeria and Australia can do together.

“Australian investments bestride the Nigerian economic landscape and most notably in the mining sector. Only recently did an Australian-owned Nigerian mining company declare the discovery of high-grade nickel in a part of Nigeria.

Continuing, he said, “I do not need to remind us of some recent significant development in the sector including the activation of the 0.5 per cent mining sector component of the natural resource fund, which caused the approval of N30 billion intervention fund for the sector; the approval of the roadmap for the growth and development of the mining sector for economic growth; the Ajaokuta-Itakpe Modified Concession Agreement which will form the lynchpin of our proposed economic resource corridor; and Mr. President’s ceaseless avowals on prompting the mining sector for economic diversification.”

Fayemi lamented the nation’s decades-long fixation on hydrocarbon resources which he said has obscured the immense scale of wealth in the solid minerals sector and its potential to power a new age of economic growth. He added that, however, Nigeria’s minerals and mining sector is still largely underdeveloped despite its glorious last and abundance of mineral resources for development.

He however said, “These minerals, broadly categorised as industrial, energy, metallic ore, construction and precious stones minerals have a huge potential of transforming every facet of the Nigerian economy if duly harnessed.”

Responding, the Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Lehmann, said the workshop was a tangible demonstration of what the Australian government and its Nigerian counterpart can do together.

“It is all about cooperation and towards building a sustainable mining sector. We are not here to teach the Nigerian officials, but to also learn the Nigeria experience. This workshop is part of the MoU we signed in 2012. We are happy that, the Minister of Mines and Steel and the permanent secretary has given their full support to this very venture,” said Lehmann.