The Association of Miners and Processors of Barite (AMAPOB), has urged the Federal Government to increase investment in the solid mineral sector to accelerate the country’s development process.
Mr Patrick Odiegwu, the National Publicity Secretary of the association made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to Odiegwu, it is important for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to understand why the country`s solid minerals sector should not reside permanently on the realms of phantom development.
Odiegwu, however, noted that there may have been cases of some unserious miners and incidents of sharp practices as well diversion of loans in the past.
He said that Prudent and Reserve Based Off-taker or trade lending was the correct panacea in weeding out jokers while supporting serious players in the sector.
Odiegwu noted that secondary collateral demand should never happen in mining, saying that specialist funding window similar to Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) should be cloned and made operative immediately.
This, he said was critical if government was serious on its resolve to realise set economic blue print for national development.
He maintained that businesses that required funding to operate should not be starved of funds as such businesses would not be able to contribute to economic growth.
Odiegwu added this would invariably harm the country’s socio economic status quo.
“I plead with the Ministry to double its efforts, it should not be business as usual, it needs to understand the mineral groups we have in the country, their uses, including value chain process.
“I do suggest a cross ventilation between manufacturer association for two hours, no talking shop.
“The communiqué derived will receive immediate implementation with drawn out grant chart in a roundtable with Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) and all her affiliates.
“This should include AMAPOB to de-risk the raw materials to manufactured goods value chain gap-closing session,’’ he said.
He expressed happiness that NEXIM Bank and SEALINK were now strategically upsetting the lack of funding and logistic logjam in the sector, adding that this was gratifying.
Odiegwu commended the minister Olamilekan Adegbite for starting on a good note by calling for briefs on mining activities in the country, but however, added that he should go beyond that.
“There should be availability of developmental funds not warehoused with the Bank of Industry (BOI) but with agencies of government like Solid Mineral Development Fund (SMDF) for cognitive applications and close monitoring for judiciousness, probity and productivity.
“This is critical to enable those that want to do bankable exploration after successfully extracting interesting base line information from desktop studies to access funds.
“It will also help those that want to go into production to get funds to buy needed equipment or services as the case may be,’’ he said.
Odiegwu while defining wealth as harnessing God given natural resources of a country with its own human content resource in balance said Nigeria was arguably the richest country in the world.
According to him, it has become necessary as it has choice minerals from tin to tantalite to gold, barite, lead-zinc, copper and others.
He noted that if 50 per cent of government revenue was invested in solid mineral development, issues of unemployment would be a thing of the past in the country, because every state of the federation had one mineral deposit or the other.
He expressed optimism that the country`s future could be turned around for good within the shortest possible time if all hands were on deck and if everyone became serious and put Nigeria first.
“Nature has given us a lot to be highly developed, but the people have not decided that Nigeria should be a developed country,’’ he said.
Odiegwu noted that the Chinese built their economy by investing and working hard in the 70s, stressing that the Federal Government could borrow money to develop the solid mineral sector,
He added that such monies would always be recovered since it was invested in production and not consumed.
The miner said that countries that Nigeria exported its solid minerals to in primary form were putting in place the right investments to take the minerals to tertiary sources (consumable goods) which we consume in our homes at excruciating costs.
Odiegwu described this as bad business.
“The mobile phone you are holding in your hands is a product with loads of mineral footprints and you will be surprised that most are originally sourced from Nigeria as raw materials.
“We have to understand mining from that perspective, we must talk of value addition and industrialisation, there is no point having minerals and selling same on primary form to other countries.
“The right investments should be put in place to be able to take our solid minerals from primary source to tertiary, our universities need to seat up and put on their thinking caps and stop producing poverty.
“The mantra should be research and production, capturing all the value chain here in Nigeria not for us to be infantile by brandishing brand new cars, phones, and television sets.
“The list are long and indicting, as these items could have been produced in Nigeria with all things being equal if we want social justice, peace and development of our human content index to be at par with other countries in the world.’’
Edited by Ese E. Ekama