Victor Olakitan in Ado Ekiti
To boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the federal government has licensed a total number of I, 759 Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASM) sites across the country, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite has disclosed. The minister added that to rake in the needed megabucks from mining operations across the federation, all the licensed artisanal mining operators had been drawn into forming cooperative societies aimed at tracking their contributions to the economy.
He reeled out the plan at a meeting with stakeholders in mining sector in Ado Ekiti recently, saying many well intentioned policies and programmes initiated in the past could not make much impact due to lack of broad based buy-in and support from critical stakeholders.
The meeting was held under a theme, Nigeria Minerals and Metal Sector: Spectrum for Investment Opportunities for Economic Growth and Development.
At the meeting, the minister said the federal government had made it a priority to engage all stakeholders at the various stages of implementation of the mining roadmap initiated when Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi was the minister in the ministry.
Specifically, Adegbite said: “We have engaged major stakeholders to ensure the formalisation of the artisanal miners into cooperative groups for easier management access to financial support and commodity markets, and the ASM formalisation policy of the government is an instrument of poverty alleviation, empowerment and job creation.” Also at the meeting, Fayemi emphasised the need for stakeholders to guide against unsafe mining practices and support artisanal miners to better organise themselves into cooperatives. He said there was the need for continuous advocacy for diversification of the economy, adding that there were economic opportunities in mining and mineral resources development, if properly harnessed. Fayemi noted that efforts in the mining sector had brought critical leverage as mineral resources and environmental management committees had been resuscitated in more than 30 states of the federation, including Ekiti State. Fayemi, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), said the country’s mining sector enjoyed the goodwill of development partners.
This, he said, resulted in the approval of $150 million for Mining Diversification Program through the Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification (MinDiver) office. He, however, stressed the need for increased funding for the sector because of its capital intensive nature, saying this would attract more investors into it and give them confidence that government was not lagging behind. He challenged the council to proffer ways of engaging mining stakeholders to ensure they contribute their quota towards the growth of the sector as he expressed optimism that the outcome of the conference would receive the support of all stakeholders. The governor also tasked the council to device strategies and policies that would ensure that the sector contributed significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Discussions at the meeting focused on strategies for sustainable mining and value addition, addressing security challenges in the sector and how to foster synergy among the three tiers of government, among others. The meeting had in attendance commissioners and permanent secretaries in charge of mining and mineral resources from the 36 states of the federation, academia, private sector, security agencies, leaders of mining unions and other stakeholders. The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, in his closing remarks, said the renewed vigour of the ministry was impacting positively on the mining and metal sector. Ogah commended the interest and political will of President Muhammadu Buhari to move the sector forward, in line with his administration’s commitment to diversify the economy using mining and metal sector.