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‘Why Nigeria’s mining sector lags behind’

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Mining

Stakeholders have explained the slow pace of Nigeria’s solid minerals, especially the continuous shrink of the mining sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This came yesterday in Abuja, years after mining activities started in the country.

The stakeholders, who included heads of government agencies, vice chancellors and industry players, noted that the sector crumbled by challenges of bureaucracy, regulatory framework, oversight and technical structure, lack of best practices and lack of data.

Speaking at the launch of a report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the executive secretary of the agency, Waziri Adio, bemoaned the decline of the sector’s contribution to GDP from 12.1 per cent in the 1970s to 0.5 per cent.

While mining activities in Nigeria started formally around 1902 and remained elusive years after, Adio linked the underdevelopment to governance and transparency challenges.

He noted that the agency would complement government’s efforts with necessary assistance that would aid current efforts to overhaul the sector.

Professor of Geology at the University of Ibadan, Gbenda Okunlola; Vice Chancellor of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Prof. Idris Funtua; president of Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), Prof. Silas Dada; president of Miners Association of Nigeria, Shehu Sanni; director, IBB University Research Centre, Prof. Nuhu Obaje; Special Assistant to Osun State Government on Forestry, Natural and Mineral Resources, Babatunde Ajilola; and others were worried over illegal mining, lack of protection for miners and the dichotomy between the federal and state governments.

The experts, who raised concern over the lack of investment in the sector, noted that unless the challenges were urgently addressed, the development of the sector might remain a mirage despite over 54 minerals finds.

Okunlola insisted that improvement of transparency and governance should include sustaining a robust regulatory framework, revamping the institution and technical structure, getting the licensing framework right, enhancing and plugging loopholes in the production and revenue profile, availability and dissemination of geoscience data, as well as a more robust stakeholders’ participation that also takes into consideration community participation, gender mainstreaming and civil society engagement.


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