Wednesday, January 20, 2016 5:38 pm
Nigeria’s heavy dependence on earnings from oil and gas was both a financial risk and strategic challenge for its social stability, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Mr Kayode Fayemi, said.
The minister made the remark while receiving a delegation of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigeria Metallurgical Society (NMS) and others on a courtesy visit in Abuja.
Fayemi told the delegation that the allocation given to the ministry in the 2016 budget was the highest in a decade.
He said that the budget would be used for targeted work such as mine security, managing the problems of formal miners, improving transparency and revenue generation.
According to Fayemi, the ministry will improve its existing laboratory to a world standard for proper analysis of minerals.
“As the country plans to diversify the economy, the ministry will put in place adequate measures to improve on health and safety of citizens to avoid mining hazards,” Fayemi said.
Alhaji Abubakar Bwari, Minister of State, Solid Minerals Development, called on the professional bodies to make a holistic solution to revive the country’s moribund steel industry.
Bwari said the ministry was determined to revive the Ajaokuta Steel Industry and others during the current administration.
Earlier, NMS President, Benjamin Adewuyi, called for the full commencement of production in all completed sections of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex.
Adewuyi urged the Federal Government to place the metal industry at the heart of the country’s national economic development, to promote job creation, acquisition of technical skills and transfer of technology.
He called on the ministry to establish cottage, small and medium-scale steel and related industries in all the geopolitical zones n the country.
“ The Korean example can be borrowed whereby the government encouraged the establishment of cluster cottage industries such as ceramic, foundry and metalworking workshops among others,’’ he said.
NSE President, Otis Anyaeji, said that the money Nigeria spent on steel importation annually could be used to revive the Ajaokuta Steel Industry.
“The money we spend every year on steel importation is enough to build a steel plant; the only thing is for government to delay some projects and revive Ajaokuta Steel,’’ Anyaeji said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some members of the delegation also advised the ministry not to depend on budgetary allocation alone but source for funds from other means to revive the steel industries.
They also called for adequate health safety for citizens in mining locations and the use of existing rails from Warri to Itakpe.
They said it would move steel and other products when Ajaokuta eventually began production to lessen pressure on roads