By Emmanuel Peter, Abuja
The Chief Executive officer(CEO) and Chairman, Shinkafi Investment Limited, Zamfara state, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi, has thrown light on how crucial mining sector is and how it will boost the Nigeria economy if properly harnessed and utilized. He made this known while addressing news men at the on-going international conference and exhibition organized by ConMin West Africa in collaboration with the federal ministry of mines and steel development at the international conference centre, Abuja.
Mr. Shinkafi pointed out that one of the major missing link in harnessing the mining sector in Nigeria is lack of political will. Adding that several government have come and gone, both military and civilian government but no political will channeled to the sector. He said, “all we hear is stories upon stories, promises that are not fulfilled. Even when the current government came on board, they made such promises too that they will diversify the economy and we thought something good, something tangible will happen but we are yet to see it on this sector. If the attention giving to agricultural sector also transcended to mining sector, I think it will go along way to boost our dwindling economy. I believe that mining is one of the hidden treasure Nigeria have but yet to be exploited . We have mining in many of our states and Zamfara state is one of them”.
He however commended the current administration for its on-going efforts to revive the sector. Stating that the current administration has done far better than previous administrations. Saying the administration was able to draw about 30billion from the natural resources fund in order to inject into the sector and it has also succeeded in securing a loan of 150m USD, which aimed at developing and revamping the sector.
Speaking on the challenges, Shinkafi said, lack of political will and inadequate financial commitment are the major factors affecting the mining industry in Nigeria. “As I said before, lack of political will is the major reason why we are still behind on this sector. And another challenge is that of financial commitment, no adequate financial commitment ever channeled to the sector considering that mining is capital intensive. An ordinary person can not go there with just a 100 million, you need a lot of money to make reasonable impact. For instance, looking at 2016 /2017 budget, what was budgeted for the ministry of mining and steel was not even up to 10 billion for its capital expenditures. So, how do you expect the ministry to exploit the natural resources that is laying domant? As you can see, we have banks for other sectors; like bank of industry, bank of Agric but no bank of solid minerals. I think if government can put that in place it will enhance the development of the sector, he added”.
Mr. Shinkafi also noted that mining sector can alleviate poverty and generate massive employment for the teaming youth. “Look at our graduates roaming the streets searching for jobs, yet they cannot find one. This is an area I will like the government to look into. Nigeria government should pay attention to mining industry because that is the only way they can reduce the rate of unemployment in the country”.
He also identified the need for the government to invite foreign experts who would help in the exploration of this natural endowment. Adding that government should explore geo-data system to enable her know the quantity of solid minerals deposited in each of the suspected states.
Mr. Shinkafi noted that the conflict between the miners and the communities has been resolved by the 2007 act. He maintained that all miners need to do is to get their consent letter and take it to the community concerned and they will be giving free access.