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 investors.

4) Could you comment on the privatisation of the governmental companies in the sector?

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 State…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 hospitality spirit.

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