The Minister of State Mines and Steel Development Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah has emphasized the need for engineering innovations and solutions to facilitate the development and adoption of appropriate technologies for national development in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Dr Ogah made this emphasis during the the 2021 Annual Public Lecture, organized by the Nigerian Society of f Engineers, Bwari Branch in Abuja, on Thursday, 29th April, 2021.
In a statement signed by the Head Press Public & Public Relations Department of the Ministry, Tine-Iulun M. A, the Hon. Minister stated the Ministry’s determination to achieve its mandate by facilitating the exploitation of the nation’s mineral and metal endowments in an environmentally sustainable manner and establish a vibrant metals industry for wealth creation, poverty reduction, promotion of rural economy as well as increase its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
He disclosed that, the the theme of this year’s Public Lecture “Economic Diversification in The Post Covid-19 Era: Special Focus on the Sustainable Development of Nigeria’s Coal and Gold” was apt as the Nigerian Mining Industry was not spared by the negative impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic which is still ravaging the world especially in 2020. He added that as a result of the pandemic, mining and quarrying companies could not access explosives they required for their operations. He said “companies were unable to produce and sell mineral commodities to generate income which led to the closure of many quarries and loss of jobs by mine and quarry workers, complete loss of mining businesses and means of livelihood of artisanal and small-scale operators as well as huge losses of mineral revenue by the Federal Government”.
He however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration’s foresight in providing some stimulus fund which has been deployed for the establishment of 6 mineral value addition clusters in the 6 geopolitical zones of the country to enable artisanal and small-scale miners enhance the sustainability of their activities.
Also, the Minister while stating that the development of the abundant coal and gold deposit in the country could absorb the unemployment challenge if properly developed, disclosed that Nigeria has the best coal and gold in the world, saying ” if properly harnessed, the development of coal and gold could help shore up the nation’s foreign reserve”. He tasked the Engineers to provide new technologies and innovations for revenue generation.
On her part, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade, who was represented by the Acting Director, Special Duties, Yisau Adepoju, stated the Ministry’s determination to harness the huge benefit from the Sector for sustainable growth.
She commended the leadership of Nigerian Society of Engineers, Bwari Branch for focusing its 2021 Public Lecture on the Mineral Sector and called on other professional bodies to lend support to Federal Government’s efforts to achieve speedy development and growth of the economy.
In her welcome address, Chairman of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Bwari Branch, Engr. Halimat Adediran, stated that the theme of the Public Lecture was chosen because since after the COVID-19 Pandemic, discussions, especially for nations whose foreign exchange earnings rest solely on crude oil has been diversification of the economy.
Engr Adediran disclosed that the purpose of the Lecture was to create a forum for a robust interaction among all stakeholders that would ensure great success of the policies the Federal Government has put in place needed to drive rapid growth in the extractive industry.
She noted that the development of the high quality coal the country has could be tapped to solve the power generation challenges as well as generate foreign reserve for the federal government, while the nation’s gold, which is grossly under tapped could generate over $500 million annual revenue. She added that with the abundance of mineral resources in the country, Nigeria has no business being on the list of 10 poorest countries in the world if the minerals are maximally explored to create sustainable wealth.
She enjoined Engineers to work towards ensuring the innovation of new technologies for national development as according to her, in the words of the Late Duke of Edinburgh, “everything not invented by God was invented by an engineer”.
In his remarks, Engr Babagana Mohammed, President, Nigerian Society of Engineers while expressing the need for collaboration between the the ministry, industry practioners and academia, stated that the Nigerian economy was long overdue for diversification.
He enjoined the Ministry to work with the private sector for the development of the extractive industry in the country.