‘How abandoning mining sector affects Nigerian economy’
The mineral and mining sector is still largely underdeveloped amid its huge growth potential, Director-General of National Metallurgical Development Centre (NMDC), Prof. Linus Asuquo, has noted.
Referencing the Federal Government’s policy thrust, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is confident that the industry is key to rescuing the economy.
The administration’s plan is anchored on the need to develop a private sector-led mining industry with the executive arm of government restricting its role to that of regulator, enacting implementable legislations.
Job creation, he added, was another benefit the most populous black nation is missing by leaving the sector under-developed.
Rich in over 44 solid minerals, Nigeria, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, saw its unemployment rate rose to 33.3 per cent (23.2 million people) early this year from 27.1 per cent, the highest in 13 years and the second highest in the world.
Despite the country boasting of vast deposits of minerals such as barytes, iron ore, copper, manganese, coal, limestone, bitumen, gold, lead-zinc and graphite, which could have been veritable sources of revenue for government, they have, however, remained underdeveloped.
According to data showing contribution of mining to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of some African nations, Democratic Republic of Congo is 18 per cent; South Africa, 7.3 per cent; Botswana, 35 per cent; Ghana, 5.5 per cent; Nigeria, 0.3 per cent and Zambia, 9.9 per cent.
Asuquo submitted that reviving the Ajaokuta Steel Company was best option for the country.
He said: “A lot of money had been spent on the construction of the magnificent complex. Abandoning it would be suicidal. We should not play with Ajaokuta Steel Company.”
Lamenting the condition of the sector, the NMDC boss observed: “If we have adequate funding and pay attention to what we are doing, we should be expecting development in the country.”
He stated that the steel firm could create massive jobs for the youth, generate power for the country, among others if revived, besides availability of materials like iron ore in large quantum for steel production nationwide.