From Remi Adebayo, Kaduna
●Minister says sector crucial to FG’s economic diversification policy
Despite its huge solid mineral deposits and the commitment of the federal government at pursuing the development of the non-oil sector, the North is not prepared to diversify its economy, Sokoto State Commissioner of Solid Minerals, Bello Mohammed has said.
The Commissioner expressed this view at the First Northern Nigeria Solid Minerals Fair and Workshop going on at the Kaduna International Trade Fair Complex.
Mohammed remarked that businessmen, policy makers and political leaders in the region were only paying lip service as there are no visible action to back all the talks about diversification.
“The North is not yet ready to support President Buhari’s government. It is evident by not registering presence overwhelmingly in this hall,” he said.
He regretted that although the North boasts of 90 per cent of solid minerals in the country, a fact that can greatly boost its bargaining power in the union of Nigeria, the region seems comfortable depending on revenues from the Federal Government.
The Commissioner expressed the commitment of the Sokoto State government under Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to embracediversification of the economy by paying adequate attention to solid minerals development as well as agriculture.
Earlier, in his keynote address, Minister of Mines and SteelDevelopment, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said development of the solidminerals sector holds the key to successful implementation of theFederal Government’s economic diversification policy.
Represented by Director of Mines Environmental Compliance in theMinistry, Engr. Sallim Ade Salaam, Fayemi said government isdeveloping the sector to compliment revenue from the oil and gas sector.
Reeling out incentives for investors in the mining sector, the Minister said, “In order to achieve this, adequate regulatory frameworks andinvestment friendly policies have been put in place to attract genuineinvestments and fast tract effectiveness in the sector.
“These policies include security of tenure of mineral titles; transparentprocedures for granting access to mineral titles on first come first servebasis; internationally competitive mining incentives; comprehensivegeosciences data of mineral deposits and other locations in Nigeria;deferred royalty payments; exemption from Customs and Import Dutiesfor plant, machinery and equipment for mining operations; three to fiveyears tax holiday and tax concessions and many more.
“The need to adequately harness and develop these minerals coupledwith the federal government’s efforts to diversify the nation’s economyfrom her over dependence on revenue from oil led to the establishmentof the former Ministry of Solid Minerals Development in 1995, whichlater transformed to Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in 2005.
“The states in the federation can also take advantage of the availableopportunities in the solid minerals sector to create wealth through theformation of special purpose vehicles (SPV) or joint joint venturethrough public private partnership and obtain mineral titles to operate,extract, beneficiate and create jobs for the men and women in thestates,” he advised.
Quoting the Bureau of Statistics, Fayemi said solid minerals rankedamong few other thriving economic sectors in spite of the economicrecession.
Minister of State in the Ministry, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari praisedthe efforts of the organisers for creating the platform to promote thedevelopment and exploration of solid minerals.
Mr. Luka Abu, director, Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, Kaduna,who represented the minister reminded the audience that Nigeria used tobe the sixth producer of tin metal and columbite based on large tin oreexploration on the plateau and parts of Kaduna Bauchi, Nasarawa andKogi states.
He lamented that the decline in this status was attributed to neglect in mining after the discovery of oil and gas as well as the indigenizationdecree of the 1970s which forced foreign miners out of the country.
In order to correct this, Bwari said the Buhari Administration hadapproved a Roadmap aimed at restoring stability and market confidencein the sector and re-establishing Nigeria as a competitive mining andmineral processing centre while returning the country to the globalexport market for trading in refined metals and minerals.
Welcoming participants earlier, President of the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Dr. Farida Dankaka described the workshop and fair as timely.
According to her, if properly tapped into, solid minerals would not only be a major source of revenue for the country, but one of the largest employers of labour to reduce unemployment through windows of several opportunities.
The three-day fair and workshop organised by the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture and Proedge Limitedcontinues today and will end on Thursday.