By Palma Ileye
Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had restated the country’s readiness to develop resources with genuine partners who share the vision of equitable distribution of wealth produced for economic growth.
Tinubu stated this while declaring open the 2nd edition of the 2023 African Natural Resources and Energy Investment Summit, AFNIS, at the International Conference Centre, ICC, in Abuja, with the theme: “Towards a Just Transition.”
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, he said that the present administration shall wake up the sleeping giant noting that the Solid Minerals sector is expected to play its strategic role in the economy, by providing jobs for people, improving the revenue acruable to the Government and establishing an industrial sector that was the envy of the world.
He said, “Today is a new beginning for the people of Nigeria, and the world all over as many participants have traveled from far regions to attend this forum becase you believe in the huge potentials of our country, the friendship of our people, and the visionary policies of our administration.
“Nigeria is open for business. We are willing to develop our god-given resources with genuine partners who share the vision of equitable distribution of wealth produced in our country with our people. We are ready to walk the talk of renewed hope with lovers of human development, to achieve the the Sustainable Development Goals of banishing poverty, disease and hunger from our fatherland.”
He stated Nigerians did it with the Petroleum sector against the odds and it became the largest source of revenue stressing that, “We shall do it again with the Solid Minerals sector, wiser, and better, because we have learnt useful lessons.”
He pointed out that the challenges of the sector were enough to overwhelm investors saying that, “The indiscriminate and illegal mining of richly endowed regions cheat the country of vast revenue; the threat of bandits oppressing villagers and exploiting the mines to raise money for insurgency is a national emergency; the lack of comprehensive and certified data to guide investment financing starves the sector of critical funds; the allegations of sharp practices in the licencing process undermiines our commitment to transparency.”
Adding that these challenges, and more were well known to the present administration.
He stressed, “Let me assure you that these difficulties to ease of doing business in this sector are being tackled by our administration saying that a new sheriff was in town and the status quo shall no longer be the same.”
He declared that, those responsible for the State of Affairs were advised to change or they will be changed stating that the penalties for these acts of economic sabotage were in the laws and, “We shall apply them to the last letter.”
According to him, “These are a few of the reasons we have appointed Dr Oladele Alake, seasoned investigative journalist, political media strategist and a man of unblemished integrity to sanitise the sector and drive its transformation.
He also said that recently, to demonstrate full support for the way he has carried out his assignment, the Federal Executive Council had adopted the Seven-point agenda presented to Council as the policies of its administration to clean up and position the sector for healthy business practices and navigate the international mining industry.
Furthermore he said that the policies for charting the new direction includes a new National Solid Minerals Company, investment in big data, the formalisation of artisanal miners into co-operatives, the imrovement in security architecture, effective co-ordination of inter-Ministerial and inter-Govermental relations to resolve operational challenges and greater transparency in the licencing process.
He added that these were the deliverables the Ministry has been mandated to achieve.
“We shall do everything to support the ministry to realise our objectives.”
He further appealed to the Governors, who, as Heads of our sub-national organs, share the responsibilities imposed by the Federal provisions of the constitution, to continue the spirit of co-operative Federalism by observing the exclusive jurisdiction in which mineral development falls.
He also stated, “We must do everything possible to lower the risks of investment by overcoming the temptation to interfere in the legitimate business operations of duly licenced miners in the states. thank you for your co-operation and continue to build on the collaboration between the federal and state to deliver good governance in the solid minerals sector.
He also indulged investors on Government’s determination to create conducive conditions for genuine businessmen saying, “We shall do everything possible to assist law-abiding businesses to operate in our country.
He however, said that the country shall no longer tolerate criminal adventurers and their local collaborators who exploit the socio – economic environment to sabotage the nation, in the guise of bringing business.
Also warning that those caught will face the full wrath of our laws.
He also noted that the event was an opportunity to discuss new ideas and display new technologies.
“Our country does not intend to re-invent the wheel. We hope to leverage on the advancement of technology so that our solid minerals can catch up with the world. We call on our geologists, geoscientists and all other professionals in the field, to put on their thinking caps, and establish nigeria as an intellectual, professional and industrial hub in solid mineral exploitation, manufacture and export in Africa.
“Nature has been kind to us, let us bring our ingenuity to bear on the utilisation of our natural resources. Let us build Nigerian companies with international presence, that is one of the objectives of the National Solid Minerals company. It will provide the corporate and sectoral leadership that nigerian start-ups and existing firms need to grow. we are starting late, but it is better late than never,” he added.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Oladele Alake reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to sustainable and efficient harnessing of mineral resources in the country to drive economic growth and create prosperity for citizens.
Alake emphasised the essence of collaboration to diversify the nation’s energy sources, promote renewable energy and implement energy efficiency measures.
He hinted about the development of a policy framework for effective and efficient management of identified transition minerals, the Minister stressed that the Federal Government recognises the global shift towards sustainable, environmentally friendly technologies hence its resolve for responsible management of critical minerals towards cleaner energy systems, reduction of carbon emissions and global fight against climate change.
He also said, “At the heart of this summit, we find the idea of a “Just Transition. This concept calls for us to ensure that as we shift towards more sustainable practices in natural resource development and energy production, no one is left behind.
“The just transition is about recognizing the needs of our workforce, communities, and economies that have long depended on traditional energy sources to establish and consolidate the forces of fostering inclusivity, providing alternatives, and equitably distributing the benefits of this transformation.”
He added that the just transition demands the addressing of the social and economic challenges that may arise from shifting away from traditional energy sources stating that, “We must invest in workforce re-training, creating alternative employment opportunities and supporting impacted communities. Africa must adopt policies that provide a safety net for those who might be negatively affected by this transition.”