Against the backdrop of the dwindling revenue from crude oil a University Don. Professor Nuhu Obaje has advised the Kogi state government to establish Solid Minerals Development Corporation, which will maximize the solid minerals deposit and shore up the revenue base and create employment for the state.
The University Don said, for the proposed Solid Minerals Development Corporation, which should be insulated from government bureaucracy – a person of proven integrity and competence should be appointed to head the corporation.
Professor Nuhu Obaje, Chair Professor in Basinal Studies and Coordinating Director, Directorate of Research & Development, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State, gave the advice at the University of Jos Distinguished Alumni lecture in a paper titled; Harnessing the mineral potential in Kogi state for economic growth and social transformation, with the theme” mining and solid minerals” held on Thursday in Lokoja.
Professor Obaje noted that while it was not a crime for Nigeria to benefit from its natural endowment, such as crude oil, said, the nation will face catastrophic consequences if the nation continues to over-rely on it without thinking for the alternative in the nearest future.
He said, while oil gluts usually bite export-dependent African nations hard, other crude oil-rich nations who had strategic plans for the future – like Saudi Arabia, Norway, Qatar, etc, have less to worry about, because of their commitment to saving for the rainy days.
According to the erudite scholar, it has become imperative for governments at all levels to begin a diversification programme of their economic base in order to reduce exposure to the inherent volatilities and uncertainties which characterize the international crude oil market.
He added that Nigeria should continue to improve on private sector employment opportunities, drive up productivity, and strategically establish the non-oil sector as the driver of the economy that has the potential to sustain a high level of government revenue and creating more jobs.
He noted that for Kogi State with abundant solid minerals, to be a major economic player in the country it should commence in earnest her Comparative advantage diversification programme that will harness the potential of the State natural resources for economic development and growth as an antidote to the oil-dependent economy.
He said it is high time for Kogi state to begin to maximise its huge solid minerals deposit, which today, constitute important drivers of some countries in the world, stressing that Solid Minerals like coal, Gold, Tantalite, manganese, Iron ore Glass sand; Marble Asbestos, Talc and Mica which are found across the state should be promptly tapped.
He informed that the mineral deposit map of Nigeria shows that Kogi State has the largest solid mineral deposits in terms of quantity and diversity from among the geopolitical states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which should not be allowed to wallow in poverty.
He stated that notwithstanding the dwindling fortune of oil and gas, it will continue to play major economic roles in the life of the country, hence, Kogi, being the first state in the North to discover crude oil, should maximise the opportunity to create prosperity for the state.
According to him, the state should set up Industrialization Trust Fund (KSITF) to solicit donations, grants and loans, to be committed to the setting up of industrial clusters around the State as funding sources would therefore constitute high net-worth individuals, corporate bodies, donor agencies, international organizations.
“Establish a Kogi State Minerals Development Corporation or Company KSMDC that will constitute the vehicle for acquiring mining titles from the Mining Cadastre Office of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
The KSMDC should have a Mineral Collection and Buying Centre to receive raw and processed minerals from its own direct mining and the mining activities of other operators and commissioned artisanal miners.
“Commission a study for the evaluation of the locations and reserves of strategic mineral deposits in Kogi State and thereafter organize roadshows and website posting of non-proprietary results for the attention of investors.
“To establish or cause to be established on PPP basis (with KSMDC representing Kogi State) or independent investor basis, specific industries to include: Gold, Tantalite, Manganese, Talc and Asbestos Processing Companies at Lokoja, Kabba and Yagba East or West; Ceramic and Earthenware Manufacturing Companies at Ahoko and Ojodu; Iron Ore Mining and Beneficiation Factory at Okene (this could involve an arrangement to farm into or take over the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) at Itakpe;
“Take shares in the operating company and expand cement manufacturing at Itobe; Kogi Independent Power Plant PPP arrangement at Okaba, Omelehu or Odu Okpakili; “Step up engagement with the Federal Government on the revitalization and recapitalization of the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Company;
“‘The artisanal miners shall constitute the bulk of the workforce of the Kogi Mineral Development Company in ring-fenced acreages and the workforce on their own in open acreages.”
“Buy into the Oil Fields in the Kogi State portions of the Anambra Basin through Orient Petroleum and to Upscale negotiations with the Federal Government through DPR for appropriate derivation on the marginal production from the Kogi State portions in the Anambra Basin;
“Revamp and revitalize the Kogi Transport Agency into a Corporation that will enable self-funding and remitting profits to Government.”
“Work on a PPP model for the establishment of a Confluence Airport at Lokoja and to develop road infrastructure to mining sites and other communities and charge Road Tax”, he stated.”
While stressing that the oil boom has become an economic misnomer to some economies who due to fiscal recklessness and over-dependence on it, call on Kogi state to apart from charting a roadmap for solid minerals development, it should vigorously pursue commercial agriculture, strengthening mechanisms and institutions for tax revenue generation and reviving the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Company.
Those in attendance, include the Deputy Governor, Hon. Edward Onoja, who is also an alumnus and a geologist, National President of the Alumni Association, state chairman, Engineer Bayode Oladipupo Academicians from IBBUL, Ful and some Government functionaries.