Women in mining advocate better structure to grow economy
With reduction in revenue from the oil and gas sector, an association, Women in Mining, have called on the government to improve the mining sector to grow the economy.
This was the thrust of the first ever gold and gemstone conference and exhibition held by the association last weekend in Victoria Island, Lagos, which had in attendance miners at different levels including producers, processors and sellers.
Speaking at the event, the founder, Women in Mining, Nigeria, Janet Adeyemi, an engineer, said the event was a call for reawakening, digitalisation and inclusion beyond policy by the people in the mining industry.
“By inclusion, all stakeholders must be included; some people are working hard in their little corners but they are not known. So, the event mapped a connection between those who are processing, adding value and those who are selling,” Adeyemi said. She noted that the mining sector has been moribund for a long time, saying the sector was abandoned the moment oil and agriculture took precedence.
“However, COVID-19 brought us to the realisation that what will bring us unto the fourth revolution and sustain the economy is mining, agriculture, ICT and entertainment and so it is wise for any nation to invest in this,” she added.
A member of the Planning Committee of the conference, Mrs. Dolapo Okulaja-Kotun, stressed that what Nigeria has in the ground was much more than oil and gas.
“Right now, women are putting their children on their back and mining locally. They are marginalised, not supported; they are used and abused, hence the idea of the association to give women a voice to be heard.
“We have also been able to open the gold and gemstone economy. The government is losing 4.2 million dollars a day from illegal export of our natural resources.”
So the government needs a better structure to monitor the places where these resources are deposited and harness them. We have one of the best gold in the world but no refineries.
“We want the government to look towards mining as an income generator for the economy. The same thing that is happening in mining happens in agriculture. So, we need to broaden our horizon and stop being a one-commodity nation,” she said.
Another member of the association, Margaret Ngozi Ukegbu, said women were the backbone of every institution, adding that no matter how little, they have a role to play.
“I want to see a situation where our youths will have a place in mining. We need them to know that there is hope in Nigeria,” she noted.