The Nigeria Society of Mining Engineers (NSME) has tasked the Federal Government to provide necessary equipment and other resources required to ensure the country produces the required manpower that would help diversify the country through solid minerals.
President of NSME, Dr. Ebenezer Damisa made the call, while reading a text of a press briefing at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kaduna State Secretariat on Friday, December 1, 2017.
“The issue of trained manpower with adequate technical skills is another major constraint militating against optimum management of the mining sector. Apart from the fact that there is a dearth of universities that offer mining engineering programme in Nigeria, the recent graduates of one or two universities that offer Mining Engineering programmes and Polytechnic system do not possess the adequate practical training needed to manage minerals and metals production
“Therefore, we urge the Federal government to provide the necessary equipment and other resources needed for the training of skilled manpower to the newly established Mining Engineering programme at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and other existing institutions where mining is offered to obviate the need for dependence on foreign skilled manpower engineering programmes are for the sector,” he said.
Similarly, he urged the government to pass the Enabling Law of the Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences (NIMG) Jos, the means to function as a training institute for all aspects of mineral resources development.
” It would be recalled that the defunct Jos Federal School of Mines operated for many decades without enabling law and died inevitably. It was on it’s ashes that NIMG came into being, We strongly suggest that NIMG in the long run, be converted to a thematic or specialized university for mining and earth sciences as obtainable in other countries,” he added.
He said that MSME strongly believes that with the mineral assets that the country possesses, the mining sector, with commitment of all stakeholders, can contribute in great measure
in achieving the laudable objectives of boosting and diversifying its economy in significant ways.
“It is common knowledge that the sector has remained stunted since the 1980s and has been contributing less than 1% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In addition to contributing as much as 5% in the 1970s, the sector was also the largest employer of labour in the non-agrarian sector, with quite a good number of multi-national companies operating on the Jos Plateau and thus was a significant player in some of the core global mining commodities, especially tin ore (cassiterite).
“Today major mining companies globally do not see Nigeria as a mining jurisdiction despite having one of the best mining codes. We would want to reiterate, as we have been doing for
sometime, that Nigeria needs investment both local and foreign in the mining sector especially the big operators,” he pointed out.
Dr. Damisa lamented that what is obtainable in Nigeria’s minefields are artisanal miners which contribute very minimally to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) despite the variety of mineral assets that Nigeria is blessed with.
“Indeed, when compared to other mining jurisdictions globally, Nigeria can be said to be under-performing which suggests that a lot more must be done to improve the performance of the sector especially with regard to attracting big operators to the Nigerian mining sector and
this shall be the main focus of this briefing,” he emphasized.
He said that at the 17″ Annual General Meeting/International Conference held between 7 and 10″ November 2017 in Kaduna, with the theme “Unlocking the Investment Opportunities in
Nigeria’s Mining Sector” it was agreed that in line with the Federal Government’s Agenda of Diversification of the Nigerian economic base with solid minerals sector as a pillar, the society keys into it.
” In this regard, the Society would like to commend the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for the Diversification Policy from mono-economy and focusing on Mining and Agriculture for a better
economic base. For added impetus, we would like to suggest that President Muhammadu Buhari appoints a Special Adviser, a mining engineer, on mines and steel development to help push the industry forward,” it added.
NSME suggested the appointment of a special adviser to the President on mines and metals, a professional that would work with the Honourable Minister for effective implementation of the administration’s policy in minerals and metals development.
The President said that the major reason for the under-performance in recent times, may be attributed to governance issue, which has remained a major obstacle to the optimal development of sold mineral assets.
” Many of our state governments have not given the much desired cooperation to the Federal authorities in the area of investment. There are many instances where potential big time investors have been frustrated and discouraged in taking up investment opportunities in some of the states of federation, It is no longer a hidden fact as some state governors have come out openly to express their displeasure regarding the governance of the sector.
“At this juncture, we want to re-echo the Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi’s view expressed recently while delivering a Keynote Address at the Fifth Annual Lecture of the School of Management Technology, Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) in which he canvassed
for urgent review of the country’s laws to allow sub-national entitles (states) play more prominent roles in mining issues as a necessary step In making the minerals and
mining sector more viable.
” In this regard, the Society would like to suggest a Special Summit to address this very important Issue so that the sector can move forward,” he added.
NSME described the Ajaokuta Steel Plant and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe as Nigeria’s hope for industrialization.
“For about five decades now Nigeria has been making effort to establish an iron and steel production capacity in Ajaokuta. The project has turned out to have the longest gestation period among public sector industrial projects in Nigeria. Successive Nigerian governments have not been able to deploy the political will to do what it requires to finally deliver the Ajaokuta project.
” We urge the Federal Government to exercise the political will to resuscitate the dying hope of Nigeria’s industrialization- the Ajaokuta steel plant and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe. We believe the legal and other issues militating against the operationalisation of these industrialisation entities are not beyond President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to resolve.
“We urge the Federal Government under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, to do everything it can, to put into operation the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, as this will bring about rapid industrialization in the country. Many mines will come on stream to provide mineral raw materials such as iron ore, coking coal, dolomite,magnesite, limestone etc as feedstock to the Ajaokuta Steel Plant. The steel sector cannot succeed without a viable mining sector. With regard to employment, a one million tonne per year steel plant in a country like Nigeria would need to forge the specialized and not so specialized skills and knowledge of not less than 10,000 workforce. Surely, this is a big incentive to make the Ajaokuta Steel plant functional,” he submitted.