NOVEMBER 13th 2003 - EBIZGUIDES NIGERIA
1) Your Ministry is a strong element in the Nigerian economy,
please comment on the current policies related to your sector
and implemented by your Ministry.
The Nigerian economy has depended so much on oil, there is
a need now to diversify and we must look at other directions,
such as the solid minerals sector which has been unexploited
and abandoned for so long. The policy now is to bring attention
to it, to raise awareness of the potentials of the Solid Minerals
sector. Nigeria luckily is endowed with so much potential,
there is hardly anywhere in the country that you do not find
one kind of solid mineral or the other. This is what we are
going to exploit. There are minerals all over Nigeria, minerals
that bring economic value such as gold, tantalite, barite,
coal, steel, iron, ore and so on, which have not yet been
tapped. Government policies in Solid Minerals therefore is
focussed on the rapid development of the sector to contribute
significantly to the foreign exchange earning of the country,
produce enough minerals based raw materials for local industries
and create employment and wealth for Nigerian youths and communities.
2) What kind of studies were done to evaluate the potential
of Solid Minerals in Nigeria?
Many studies were done in the past to evaluate the potential:
we have huge coal reserves. There are 2 main companies in
the sector under the Ministry: the Nigerian Mining Corporation,
based in Jos, and the Nigerian Coal Corporation, based in
Enugu. These two areas offer the most potential. Unfortunately,
the Nigerian Mining Corporation and the Coal Corporation have
suffered some difficulties in the past, but we are planning
to privatise them. The process is on. In addition, the Geological
Survey of Nigeria has mapped almost all of Nigeria and has
generated data that led to the discovery of some of these
minerals. The information on these minerals can be found in
my Ministry. Contracts for Airborne Geophysical Surveys have
been awarded to cover some parts of Nigeria. The intention
is to cover the entire notion within two years
3) Concretely, what are the new laws and their first results?
We have a seven-year development plan. One of its highlights
is the introduction of an Artisanal Small-Scale Mining Programme.
We have discovered there is too much illegal mining all over
the place. We have put in place this programme in order to
bring the miners together, to provide training, basic infrastructure
and facilities so as to be able to monitor their activities
and to generate some revenue for government. We will be able
also to reduce or minimize the negative effect of these activities
on the environment. We are concerned about the environmental
degradation associated with mining activities. So we must
monitor them to reduce the damage done to the environment.
Another highlight of the program is to make the Solid Mineral
sector a private investment regime. We are now gathering data
about the potentials, the quantity and quality of what we
have on the ground because we strongly believe that investment
in solid minerals can only be done if we have credible data,
data with integrity that we can share. For the moment, what
we have is not sufficient contracts for Airborne Geophysical
Survey have been awarded and coupled with information from
other sources a data base shall be created. With this, we
will be able to identify the availability of solid mineral
commodities in the country. We are also backing other studies
of the different mining activities. We are also reviving the
Geological Survey Agency of Nigeria in order to coordinate
geological and survey activities within the country. There
is also an institutional reform regarding the law linked to
solid mineral and mining activities in Nigeria in order to
attract foreign investment. This law is meant to encourage
| 4) Could you
comment on the privatisation of the governmental companies in
The Nigerian Mining Corporation has been listed. It has numerous
subsidiaries to be privatised to make it more functional.
5) In terms of the wealth of the country, could you elaborate
on the importance that minerals play, such as gold for instance?
The government has not put special attention on the possibilities
that gold could bring. In Kaduna State, there are at least
200 miners, and there are no facilities for them. There are
different places such as in Kogi State, Ogun State, Niger
where you can find gold. There is a need for a
structure to bring out their full potentials and we are trying
to correct that. We are also reviewing the licensing and the
leasing process given to mines. We want to make sure that
the government gets a revenue that is accruable from such
activities. Mining activities are polluting the environment.
henceforth all exploration and exploitation of any mineral
product must be done in an environmentally friendly manner.
We want to give a special attention to the environment regarding
all mining activities.
6) Regarding investment, which industries receive the
most interest and who are the investors?
Quite a number of foreign investors are coming in different
areas such as gold, gypsum, barite, coal, and tantalite, which
are used in different industries.
7) Could you give us a brief overview of your professional
experiences and career?
I was appointed Minister of Solid Mineral four months ago.
Before I used to be Minister of State at the Ministry Internal
Affairs. I was also the Special Assistant to the Minister
of Works and Housing. I was the Commissioner for Information
in Edo State and I was a University lecturer in political
science for eleven years at the University of Benin.
8) What is your final message to the international business
community and potential investors?
Nigeria has great potentials. We welcome anybody who is interested
in investing here with open arms. We also have an abundant