Abuja — The Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari administration's plan to diversify the economy, saying its approach to diversification is one-sided.
MAN, an umbrella body of all categories of miners in the country, however, urged the federal government to replicate in the mining sector the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP), a federal initiative that provides farm inputs in kind and cash to farmers nationwide.
The president of the association, Alhaji Kabiru Kankara made the demand on Friday during a webinar of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) under the theme, 'Post Covid-19 Nigeria: Impact and Opportunities on the Mining Industry'.
If Anchor Borrower Programme was replicated in the mining sector, Kankara noted that Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASM) in the country would have something to start with.
He attributed the challenges of artisanal and small scale miners to lack of equipment, capacity building and funding.
Citing a statement by the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Kankara said COVID-19 "has degraded the sector to a lowest ebb. As far as activities are concerned, miners have to stay away from their sites. This has brought untold hardship on them."
He, however, canvassed synergy between the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and Miners Association of Nigeria in terms of raw materials for the local industries.
Also at NESG's webinar, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite said the federal government would create a gold ecosystem that would minimise the high rate of illegal gold mining and smuggling in the country.
The minister spoke at the NESG webinar with the theme: Post Covid-19 Nigeria: Impact and opportunities on the Mining Industry
He noted that the gold ecosystem would also bring about an increase in government revenue, create jobs as well as improve environmental and social stewardship.
Adegbite revealed that the double-ended shock of COVID-19 and consequent sharp decline in oil prices "has led to a revenue shortfall for the country.
"It is the right time to bring the mining sector to the forefront. President Buhari is committed to diversifying the economy from oil through the development of the mining and agricultural sectors.
"The federal government priority is currently anchored in the gold sector and through the ongoing Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI) we are organising, formalising, and equipping Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Miners (ASGMs) in Kaduna, Kebbi, Osun, Niger and Zamfara States."
Adegbite said miners of precious, metallic and industrial minerals would be linked to formal markets through licensed private mineral buying centres as he cited the recently launched Dukia-Heritage Bank Buying Centre as one of such initiatives.
He however, commended NESG for its efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy saying that the discussion on the opportunities and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Nigerian mining industry is timely.