SPEECH AT 52ND ANNUAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, ALHAJI (DR.) ABDULFATAH AHMED, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF KWARA STATE AT THE 52ND ANNUAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE NIGERIAN MINING AND GEOSCIENCE SOCIETY (NMGS) ON TUESDAY, MARCH 15TH, 2016
It is always a great pleasure to join a congregation of professionals and others with the potential to add value to our state and its people. It is even more pleasing when such gatherings are intended to explore alternative sources and means of creating shared prosperity.
I am therefore pleased to be here today for the 52nd Annual National Conference of Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS). This conference provides an opportunity for us to deliberate on ways to reposition the solid mineral sector to play a more vital role in our country’s industrialization and economic growth.
More than ever before, there is profound optimism that the sector can serve as a key driver in the quest for sustained economic growth and development in the country. The cumulative experience and expertise in this room today makes you all key to this quest.
I commend the NMGS for its contribution towards sensitizing the public on the need to fully exploit and develop the abundant mineral resources in Nigeria in a sustainable manner for national development. I urge you not to relent.
As things stand in our country, the only way governments can continue to meet their obligations to the people is to create a broad based and sustainable economy: an economythat relies on revenue and growth from multiple sectors and is structured to createprosperity for the current generation without jeopardizing that of the future.
No doubt, the solid mineral sector has the potential to generate significant revenue for the country but has been largely underexplored due to the reliance on oil resources.
Yet the opportunities are vast. For example, 30 per cent of the planet’s mineral resources, and specifically, more than 40 per cent of global gold, diamond and manganese, to mention a few, is found in Africa. Nigeria is no less endowed. According to the 2012 audit report of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Nigeria has about 40 different solid minerals spread across the country. Yet on the average,the sector contributesonly about 0.34 % to the country’s GDP.
However, it is important to note that Section 44 (3) of the 1999 Constitution vests the Federal Government with the ownership and control of all minerals, mineral oils and natural gas, in Nigeria.
Also, the Second Schedule, Part1, item 39 of the Exclusive Legislative list in the 1999 Constitution restricts State Governments from developing their respective mining industries.
As a result, this has limited the authority of States in the mining sector. This restriction has led to states having no authority to regulate the sector despite, playing host to miners.
Indeed, it is ironic that this restriction exists at a time states are required to exploit alternative sources of revenue such as the solid mineral and mining sector.
Thisstructure has led to environmental degradation aslicensed miners sometimes carry outmining activities in a haphazard manner, as states are unable to regulate their activities.
I, therefore call on the Federal Government to allow increased participation by States in the solid mineral sector, especially in exploration, the collection of royalties, fees, fines and taxes accruable from solid minerals. With this, States will be able to stimulate more growth, increase their Internally Generated Revenue, and create critical jobs for youths.
While we have a fairly accurate estimate of the mineral resources our country is endowed with, it is believed these barely scratch the surface of the vast mineral deposits in Nigeria. We must however acknowledge that mineral exploitation is expensive and time consuming.
Certainly, the resources required are beyond the capacity of most states in the country. I therefore call for partnership between the Federal Government, and States for a survey of the quality and quantity of solid minerals in the country in order to build a geosciences database.
In Kwara state, we are blessed with Gold, Kaolin, Marble, Dolomite, Tourmalines, Limestone and several other solid minerals which we are focused on exploiting to form the base for industrial development in the State.
Likewise, in order to diversify our economic base through solid minerals, this administration has put in place strategies to formalize and grow the industry.
These strategies include: enumerating and regulating operators and growing micro-and small-scale operators in the sector amongst others.
Furthermore, we are making plans to organize informal minersin the sector into cooperatives and given access to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME) loans. This is to encourage small business owners in solid mineral and mining sector.
We have also set up the Midway Minerals Development Company Limited as a special purpose vehicle to acquire mining licenses and promote investment in the sector. Currently, we have five mining permits covering Four Hundred and Forty-Five cadastral units for mining Tourmaline, Tantalum, Dolomite and Marble.
Additionally, we are ready to acquire additional licenses to further exploit opportunities in the sector and by forging partnerships with private sector investors.
Having reviewed the program for the conference, it is pleasing to note that the focus is on diversifying the economy through the solid mineral sector.
I, therefore urge you to utilize this opportunity to come up with recommendations on how the Federal and State Government can reposition the Solid Mineral Sector towards profitability and suitability.
I wish you happy deliberations. Thank you and God Bless