The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel, Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu, said yesterday that the Federal Government was banking on the solid minerals sector to diversify the country’s economy.
Mu’azu said this at the 3rd National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development (NCMMRD) conference in Ado-Ekiti, with the theme: “Nigerian Minerals and Metal Sector: Spectrum for Investment Opportunities for Economic Growth and Development’’.
At the three-day conference, which kicked-off yesterday, the Permanet Secretary said: “This country needs to diversify and the mining and solid mineral sector holds the potential for diversification and we all know why. Everyone knows that the country is endowed with lots of mineral resources’’.
He noted that there was no state in the country that did not have one or two mineral resources which were, in most cases, untapped.
He urged stakeholders in the sector to be proactive in ensuring that the country’s solid mineral resources were effectively harnessed for national development.
Mu’azu expressed concern that stakeholders still spoke about potential rather than looking at ways of converting these potential and begin to engage in economic activities for social economic development of the country.
“We are all aware that the Federal Government has an ambitious target of taking 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years, this sector has the potential to ensure that this is achieved.
“I think we should begin to walk the talk, we have talked enough about mining potential, and this is the time to go into action.
“We have spoken so much on potential, it is time we change the narrative and begin to walk the talk and that is the essence of this meeting.
He noted that many countries including South Africa and Australia depended on mining to develop their economies, adding that Nigeria could do same.
On management of the country’s solid mineral resources, the permanent secretary said though it had become a recurrent conversation, its control resides with the Federal Government.
He advised stakeholders to come together as partners to stimulate and promote growth of the sector for the benefit of all rather than dwelling on who controls and manages the industry.
The permanent secretary said that while fiscal federalism and resource control could be discussed, royalty from the exploration of mineral resources were paid into the federation account and consequently shared among the three tiers of government.
Mu’azu urged participants to discuss value addition and ways of converting challenges posed by artisanal miners into opportunities.
According to him, converting the challenges into opportunities will enhance job creation in the sector and bring people out of poverty.
He added that rather than seeing the activities of artisanal miners as a challenge in the sector, stakeholders should engage security agencies on how to address issues of mining security and how to safe guard our environment.
“We have to come together and discuss how the various governments can contribute to providing the best infrastructure for the country’s economic development,’’ he said.