In the wake of dwindling Oil revenue and global prices instability, the Executive Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola has suggested the nation should look beyond oil, and explore other valuable minerals, as alternative to oil in a bid to achieve economic diversification agenda.
He said this while speaking at 2021 Public Lecture organised by the Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE Bwari Branch, in collaboration with the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources in Abuja, where he was a special guest of honour.
Speaking through a Vice President of NSE, Engr Adeniran Ibitoye, who is also Osun State Special Adviser on Energy and Water Resources, Oyetola praised the NSE Bwari Branch leadership for their foresight in choosing the theme; “Economic Diversification in Post Covid-19 Era: Special Focus on the Sustainable Development of Nigeria’s Coal and Gold”.
He said the topic is a fitting invitation to the nation to “finally wake up from its dependence on oil in a world where the resource has become a passive and unstable player in the international market.”
“With alternative mineral resources overtaking oil and competing for supremacy in the global market, it is clear that nations that seek a viable place in the global economic scene must look away from oil and diversify their economy based on its comparative advantage.” He said.
Continuing, he said “the period when the debilitating price of oil determined the economy of nations, especially Nigeria, has gone and our nation must look under the belly of its soil for minerals whose value have global economic value.”
He warned that Nigeria must avoid making a mistake where resources become a curse. In his word: “While the receding value of oil has taught us a lesson that we can no longer play politics with diversification, the oncoming worth of coal and gold which the nation has in commercial quantity, must compel us to learn from the mistakes of the past that made oil a resource curse to our nation.”
Governor Oyetola used the opportunity to appreciate the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari for granting mining rights to States in the spirit of economic diversification. He however warned that “this initiative must be approached and implemented with cautious optimism.” Adding that ” For us to succeed this time round, we must get the legal, operational, administrative, marketing and institutional frameworks right.”
He emphasized the need for proper regulatory framework that protect the environment and include the host community in the plans. In his words: “We must put measures in place to control and avoid environmental degradation that may cause untoward damage to the land and the economy to local communities. There must also be a conscious effort to foster cordial relationships between the miners and the local communities to avoid needless crisis and violence.”
Speaking on the efforts of Osun state in exploring its gold, Engr. Ibitoye said Osun state has developed a framework for proper management of its resources in a bid to forster due process and eliminate corruption in mining process. He said the goal of the state in its diversification agenda is to be financially independent.
“Revenues generated from the mining sector must therefore be used to service other sectors in order to expand the nation’s income generating net and provide infrastructure and other projects that will deliver prosperity and boost development.” He said.
The coal and gold sector is one of the hopes of the nation for economic recovery and transformation. After over 60 years of mismanaging the oil boom, we must be careful and cautious not to make the same mistake twice.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD), Dr Ochechukwu Ogah has said that the ministry recorded 1,562,720 grams of Gold production from 2016 to 2020.
In his paper titled “Economic Diversification in the Post COVID-19 Era: Special focus on the Sustainable Development of Nigeria’s Coal and Gold,” Ogah said that Nigeria is blessed with abundant gold that can help to manage the effect of devaluation of our currency. He revealed that the ministry recorded 30,112.24 grams gold production in 2016 with 17,458.22 grams in 2017 and 64,000.05 grams in 2018, 162,742.53 grams in 2019 and 1, 288,407 in 2020 bring the total production to 1,562,720.04 grams.
He also explained that Nigeria’s gold reserve was estimated to be over a million ounces in Osun where detailed exploration and reserves checks were done.
He said that the impact of COVID-19 was most felt by both small and big mining operators, adding that mining and quarry companies were unable to produce and sell mineral commodities to generate income among others.
Engr. Halimat Adediran, Chairman, Bwari Branch in her address, noted that that coal was one of the major sources of power generation in South Africa adding that Nigeria had high quality coal that could be tapped for power generation. She said that the goal of the Public lecture which is the first since the inauguration of the Branch is to support the FG in its economic diversification agenda through exploring the opportunities in mine and mineral resources.
Earlier, the NSE president Engr. Babagana Mohammed, wgo chaired the event has called for private sector involvement in mining activities for government to achieve its diversification agenda.
It will be recalled that Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola recently inaugurated the Mineral Resources & Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO) as a body which is expected to regulate and control mining activities and enforce strict compliance on environmental procedures in Osun state. The state also established Osun State Investment Promotion Agency (OSIPA) with the capacity to showcase and the discovery of the numerous economic potentials of the State of Osun.
Compiled by Isqil Najim