Less than 24 hours after Muhammadu Buhari, was declared president-elect of Nigeria, appeals have been made that his prioritise development of the solid mineral sector, revival of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company and to build Goodluck Jonathan’s achievements in agriculture sector
Sani Shehu, the President, Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), who made the appeal for the development of the solid mineral sector, said his association was optimistic that Buhari would fulfil his presidential campaign promise, to develop the sector for economic diversification and job creation.
Shehu said that the need to develop the solid minerals sector had become necessary, as revenue generated from crude oil, the country’s major source of income, was on the decline.
The MAN president stressed the need for Nigeria to urgently diversify from its mono to multi economy through development of the sector.
He said so far 44 minerals had been discovered in commercial quantity across the country and advised the new government to give priority to the development of industrial, metallic and energy minerals.
Shehu listed minerals that needed priority attention to include gold, iron ore, coal, limestone, kaolin, lead/zinc, bitumen, cassiterite, columbite, and copper.
He said the development of the sector could only be achieved through the encouragement of mechanised mining of industrial minerals by local industries.
He said it should be done in line with the import substitution strategy or existing policy, to feed the local industries and preserve government foreign exchange.
Shehu, who recalled the viability of the sector in the 70s and 80s, said it contributed between five to 10 per cent to GDP of the country.
“We need to ask questions on why the sector has declined and why it is not contributing as much as it used to in the past,” he asked.
The president said although the sector contributed significantly to the GDP in the past, there were mechanized mining activities that were largely carried out by foreign operators.
“The alternative to crude oil is solid mineral; the diversification issue is there; the Federal Government needs to diversify, to check unforeseen challenges that may come in their number,” he said.
Shehu also advised the government to establish a specialised intervention fund for the development of the sector as done in the agriculture, textile industry, entertainment industry and transportation sectors.
He cited the achievements recorded in the sector in countries like Australia, Canada and South Africa and urged Nigeria to emulate them.
Chinedu Nwozor, the Deputy President, Nigeria Union of Mine Workers, also urged the president-elect to revive the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill to ensure that it operated maximally.
Nwozor said solid steel base was a backbone of industrial revolution, describing the company as economic hope of the country.
He further appealed to the incoming government to revisit the privatisation of Itakpe National Iron Ore Mining Company, to enable it to achieve its mandate.
He urged the government to harness all the coal deposits as alternative source of electricity generation in the country.
On his part, Emmanuel Ajayi, an expert in Agriculture urged the president elect to build on the achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan in the agriculture sector.
Ajayi said the outgoing administration had transformed the agriculture sector. He said that the impact of the transformation effort had begun to manifest, calling on the incoming government to sustain the momentum by evolving new policies that would enhance the sector.
Ajayi also canvassed that proper attention should be given to major crops that had earned huge revenue in the 1960s such as cocoa, groundnut and kolanut.
“The revival of production of these crops alone will assist government to recover from the present economic doldrums and provide employment for millions of Nigerians,’’ he noted
Ajayi stressed that massive investment in the agriculture sector was the fastest and easiest way to revive the economy.