Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday disclosed that the federal government was currently working with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and others to gather $600 million investment fund for the mining sector.
Osinbajo added that the federal government has also secured funding from both domestic and international sources for investment in the solid minerals industry from the public purse.
He noted that the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development had been granted access to the mining sector component of the countryâ€™s Natural Resources Development Fund amounting to N30 billion.
The acting president, while declaring open the first mining summit in Abuja yesterday, said: â€œThis summit marks another step on the journey towards achieving the African mining vision.
â€œThat vision adopted by African heads of states in 2009 aimed at leveraging Africaâ€™s vast mineral resources to liberate the country and the continent from the shackles of poverty and perpetual underdevelopment.â€
According to him, â€œLet me say that firstly, how very pleased I am to be here joining you at this first national miming summit. The point in the theme of the conference which is â€˜Unearthing Nigerian Mining Sectorâ€™ shows that even miners have a sense of humour.
â€œBut more importantly, it underscores the earth-moving task before us and the enormous opportunities. Yes, we need to unearth these incredible sources of growth and development for us and for our continent and to change the African narrative from the so called resource curse, mineral field conflicts, severe environmental degradation and marginalised host communities to one of sustainable growth and socio economic development underpinned by transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources and inclusive development.â€
He further said: â€œFor us in Nigeria, this summit is a key step in implementing our economic recovery and growth plan launched in April by President Muhammadu Buhari. The mining sector is a priority for the Nigerian government and a crucial part of our economic growth and diversification agenda.â€
Osinbanjo explained that Buhari government is determined to achieve this goal in the mining sector in spite of the many legacies that it inherited including â€œlow funding, lack of due geological data, weak institutional capacity of the supervising ministry, limited infrastructure, limited cooperating federalism, low productivity, illegal mining, weak framework for managing host communities, difficulties in doing business and protracted litigation on legacy assets.â€
He therefore said: â€œThe president has seized every opportunity in the past two years to highlight the diversification vision and the central role of the mining sector in it. The argument for diversification is of course a straightforward one. We are all witnesses to the impact on our revenue and the economy on the recent decline in oil prices and this is so for many countries such as ours with oil commodity base.
â€œWe suffer depletion of our external reserves and by extension, shortage of foreign exchange for our businesses and the economy slipped into recession. This is what overdependence on one product, in our case, crude oil, has done to us. But it should not be so especially given our abundant mineral resources and of course this includes precious metals and industrial minerals.â€
Speaking in a similar vein, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said: â€œFor Nigeria, in view of present realities, we have found our bearing from the African Mining Vision (AMV) and domesticated its provisions in our roadmap for the development of the Nigerian mining sector.â€
Fayemi in his keynote address at the occasion hinted that, â€œaccordingly, one of the priority goals of our government is to position our mining sector to play a greater role in sustainably diversifying our countryâ€™s revenue base, creating jobs, and fast-tracking industrialisation.
â€œThis is not a tall order, as we are evidently endowed with an abundance of mineral resources. We however realise that we cannot go very far with our agenda if we do not feature strongly in reckoning the international mining community as a serious mining destination.
â€œWe therefore consider it important to have a platform for bringing stakeholders in the sub-region together, to share ideas and compare notes on how to collaborate in making our resources work for our people. Asides sharing similar geological formations, we have similar aspirations and face comparable challenges which make it imperative for us to work together,â€ he added.