Ado-Ekiti — Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, have said the economic diversification of the President Muhammadu Buhari's government can only be attainable with improved funding in the mining sector.
They called for stakeholders' buy-in for the exploitation of the economic opportunities in the country's mining sector.
Speaking in Ado Ekiti at the closing session of the third edition of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development (NCMMRD), the governor challenged the council to fashion out ways to engage stakeholders in the sector on how to contribute their quota so that the sector can contribute at least 5 per cent to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The theme of the three-day council meeting which ended at the weekend is 'Nigeria Minerals and Metal Sector: Spectrum for Investment Opportunities for Economic Growth and Development'.
Fayemi, who renewed his call for the diversification of the country's economy, stressed the need to guide against unsafe mining practices and reduce instances where individuals are exploiting the state resources to the detriment of socio-economic development of the country.
Fayemi, who was a former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, said the Buhari-led federal government is giving a lot of attention to the mining sector in addition to the support from development partners, which led to the $150 million mining diversification fund from the World Bank.
"We need to continue to advocate for diversification of the economy. There are economic opportunities in mining and mineral resources development if properly harnessed. We need to guide against unsafe mining practices and support our artisanal miners to better organise themselves and reduce the incidence where individuals are exploiting the state resources to the detriment of socio-economic development of our country.
"The goal in the mining roadmap is that mining would contribute 5 percent to our national GDP by 2025 and help diversify the country's economy. It is my expectation that this council would spend time to devise strategies and policies that would ensure acceleration of mining contribution to the national GDP," he said.
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.
Adegbite, in his address, lamented that the sector had in the past made very little impact "for lack of broad based buy-in and support from critical stakeholders," but thanked Fayemi for initiating the Mining Roadmap which was aimed at unleashing the enormous potential in the mining sector in 2016.
The minister said the major highlights of Fayemi's mining roadmap are achievable through stakeholders' engagement and would ultimately increase mining contribution to the GDP while also providing shared prosperity to all the stakeholders.
Adegbite said 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.
"We have been mobilising all important stakeholders in the mining eco-system working together with government at all levels to achieve the desired objectives. It may interest you that the mining ecosystem in Nigeria is diverse with 44 different minerals of varying economic grades and qualities.
"Hence, investment opportunities are endless in the sector. I want to reassure that Nigeria has one of the most friendly investment policies in the world with high assurance of return on investment. I call on members of the public to leverage on the government liberal policies and reap maximum benefits," he said.
In his goodwill message, the Chairman of Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers and the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Ajibade Alabi, stated that all traditional rulers in the state would cooperate with the government in actualising its set goals for the mining sector.