Buharinomics And Diversification Of Nigeria’s Economy; Kayode Fayemi And The Solid Minerals

Now that the era of Oil is fading off, and the rate of poverty is increasing, the need to look elsewhere in revamping the economy is a concern. The attention to Solid Minerals, and Agriculture and Natural Resources is a confirmation that the President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government is focused in reducing economic insecurity through the flanks.

The choice of Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Audu Ogbeh (Benue) to man the Solid Minerals and Agriculture & Natural Resources is no doubt a good choice, considering the intellectual depth and value of service in the antecedents of the duo.

Although pundits have favored Kayode Fayemi to head the Foreign Affairs Ministry, considering his international pedigree and academic standing in International Relations, Politics and Peace Studies, while the footings of Audu Ogbeh has consistently been on Agriculture.

With special attention on Solid Minerals as a full-fledged Ministry, under the President Buhari government, one must agree that this ministry shall be saddled with the onerous task of revamping the economy through our untapped minerals.

The Nigerian Extractive Industries and Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in her report suggest that “there are about 40 different kinds of solid minerals and precious metals buried in Nigerian soil waiting to be exploited.

The commercial value of Nigeria’s solid minerals has been estimated to run into hundreds of trillions of dollars, with 70 per cent of these buried in the bowels of Northern Nigeria”.

The report read interalia that over “40 million tonnes of talc deposits have been identified in Niger, Osun, Kogi, Ogun and Kaduna states. There are huge deposits of coal ranging from bituminous to lignite in the Anambra Basin of South-Eastern Nigeria.

There are lead-zinc ores within the Asaba Area of Niger Delta, while tin, niobium, and lead, are to be found around Oyo and Igbeti, with as much as over a billion tonnes of gypsum spread around Sokoto, Niger, Ondo and Ekiti states.

Limestone deposits occur in Cross River, Ogun, Benue, Gombe, Ebonyi, Sokoto, Edo and Kogi states; magnesite in Adamawa and Kebbi states; coal in Enugu, Imo, Kogi, Delta, Plateau, Anambra, Abia, Benue, Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Adamawa and Kwara states; wolframite in Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi and Niger states; silver is found only in Kano, with kyanite in Kaduna and Niger states; manganese only in the Northern states of Kebbi, Katsina and Zamfara with diatomite found only in Yobe State, while ilmenite-rutile is only in Bauchi, Plateau and Kaduna states; Fluorite only in Taraba State with gold in Niger, Kebbi, Kaduna, Kogi, Kwara and Zamfara and a little in Osun. Nasarawa State in the North has been appropriately tagged as Nigeria’s home of Solid Minerals with clay, columbite, ilmenite, mica, barytes, pyrite, galena, limestone, sodium chloride, ephalerite, silica sand, granites, tantalite, mica, sphalerite, talc, gemstone (tourmaline, aquamarine and sapphire), halcopyrite, topaz, cassiterite, columbite, tantalite, emerald, heliodor, amethyst, quartz, coking coal, marble, and iron ore. Bauchi is another richly endowed state in the North with metal ores, non-metallic ores and gemstones.

Other untapped mineral resources in Bauchi include kaolin,talc,tin,quartz,iron ore, gypsum, zircon, calcite, tantalite, chalcoprite, mica, copper ore, limestone, tourmaline, beryl, garnet, columbite, muscovite, aquamarine, topaz, marble, bismuth, wolfromite and others.

Take note that the Ex-Ministry of Mines and Steel recorded to have just six buying center, nine dredging companies, eleven exporters of solid minerals, fourteen medium scale mining companies, thirty-five commercial quarry, fifty-four construction quarry, eight quarry for manufacturing; making a total of one hundred and thirty-seven activities in the solid mineral sector of the Nigerian economy?!

Good news to the ears of Nigerians and a challenge in drawing a policy direction in turning all of these available raw minerals to Cash for our “very poor” country-Nigeria that cannot pay Salaries of Ministers, and having 75% of her citizens living under a dollar (N200) per day-as credited to Mr. President himself. It is a fact that the new minister, Kayode Fayemi is a policy formulator, researcher and lecturer, but he has to do more research and formulations here in the Ministry than the academic presentations-his Vocation.

In corroborating the position of the NEITI, the President of Miners’ Empowerment Association of Nigeria, Mr. Sunny Ekosin, reveals that “Nigeria loses a whopping N8trillion ($50 billion) annually in unexploited gold alone”, this is in tandem with the public declaration of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Steel in 2012.

The questions Nigerians need thus to ask is why has the Nigeria Government under the previous administrations of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan decided to abandon this sector, privatize it if the need be or invest heavily?- Oh Oil and/or who Heads the (Solid Mineral) Ministry earlier, I think! Unfortunately for Nigeria and Nigerians who believes that stealing is same as Corruption, the independent audit report of Haruna Yahaya & Co (Chattered Accountants) on the former Ministry of Mines and Steel (now Ministry of Solid Minerals) showed that a lot of unlicensed exporters and miners in connivance with the Customs, Central Bank and the Ministry’s ‘evil servants’ and the political class have seen this as a fat meal to feed on. Indeed this ministry is another ‘Juicy portfolio’ that Nigerians don’t pay attention to, like the Petroleum Resoruces, Niger Delta and Finance. Indeed, It will take a prudent character to save Nigeria's wealth in this ministry.

The report indicated that there are no adequate records of operations in the sector. Quoting verbatim “A review of Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria Customs Service records on exported minerals showed that there were discrepancies in the value of exported minerals as well as the associated company. At the beginning of the reconciliation, the total amount reported by the Government Entities of Nigeria from the Solid Minerals Sector amounted to N49.759 billion. We note, however, that the total net difference between the amounts declared by reporting companies’ and those of the Government Entities amounted to NGN 6,535,199,305 (13%), At the end of the reconciliation, a total amount of N27.560 billion was reported to have been received by the Government of Nigeria between 1st of January and 31st of December 2012. A net difference of NGN2.004 billion”

“7.3% remained unreconciled. According to the data collected from Solid Minerals Companies, we have calculated the royalties that should be paid to the MID based on quantum reported during the reconciliation work. The difference between amounts really paid and those calculated amounting to N (12,089,562) and represents (1.4%) of the total royalties as declared by MID”.

The inability of states to exploit the resources in their domain is partly traceable to the 2007 Mineral Act which has vested the ownership of solid mineral on the federal government.

In lieu of this, Kayode Fayemi, must as a matter of urgency block all these conduit pipe like he did in his days as Governor of Ekiti State, and provide the enabling environment for mining activities for export and import: private investors, foreign and domestic and also identifying areas where government intervention is desirable in achieving policy goals in this regards in the interest of National Development.

He must also review the Tax concessions and holidays for investors, reclaim the Public/Investor Trust, Registration and Licensing of qualified mining companies, via every legal and constitutional procedures. In backing Kayode Fayemi, it is therefore a necessity for the FG to invest heavily in this sector if indeed she is ready to diversify her economy and provide the necessary policy framework to make foreign investment both attractive and tenable.

The New Solid Minerals Ministry and Agriculture is the last Hope of Nigerians to diversify our Economy, while we all pray/support that the choices of Kayode Fayemi and Audu Ogbeh are not regretted. There is no doubt that Kayode Fayemi is up to the task but the unflinching support of the President/Presidency will provide the confidence in the New Minister and Nigerians in achieving this goal.

Wites from Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti State

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Articles by Adeolu Oyebode