By November 11 it will be two years since my colleague and I arrived this ministry to resume work as ministers in charge of the solid minerals sector.
- It is therefore symbolic that today we are here to launch one of the defining projects of our tenure, the Integrated Automation and Interactive Solid Minerals Portal, (IAISMP). It is intended to ease the process of obtaining mining licenses, mineral title application, encourage online payment of royalties and provide credible and timely intervention about the sector.
- This is one innovation that from the very beginning we knew we needed for the sector to become accessible to investors. We realised that change is usually difficult, and unless you get people to buy in, you won’t get the kind of success you crave.
- So this integrated web portal was conceived as a means of making information more accessible to players and the public alike. Actually, it is part of the initiative we conceived in order to revamp the sector.
- The truth is when we first came here we met a sector that was moribund and seemed to lack both the wherewithal and the will to carry on. In order words, the budget was low and the morale was even lower.
- We designed a roadmap that we hoped will take us out of the doldrums and lead us on the path to shared mining prosperity. Anyone who looks at our roadmap will notice that we have made plans that will in time make this nation a mining destination again. Some of these plans, like the legitimisation of artesanal miners, improved funding for the sector, ensuring greater cooperation between states and the federal government, and raising the contribution of mining to GDP, have achieved modest success.
- However, when you consider the huge potentials we have in the sector and compare that to what we presently contribute to the GDP, you will agree with me that the gap is just too much. Some of causes of this could have been avoided if in the past we had been more careful as a country.
- For instance, the current fate of our legacy projects like Ajaokuta, Itape and the aluminium smelting company was self inflicted by leaders who failed to demonstrate the right attitude, or take the right decision.
- We have since made serious efforts to salvage the situation and although things have not moved as fast as we wished, there has been improvement and the future is certainly brighter now.
- However, there are some things that will take us a while longer to accomplish even though we have articulated them all in our roadmap. As you know, this sector has a long gestation period and some of the progress we need to make do not depend on our efforts alone.
- We wish that there had been a deliberate plan to build our railway network along the nation’s major productive corridor; we wish that there were roads to the hinterlands where some of these precious resources lie beneath the earth; we wish that our power situation was such that we had taken advantage of the coal mines in our country; we wish that we had the kind of funds that will get us the kind of bankable data that big mining companies need in order to come to our country.
- All these are the fundamentals that will make mining thrive in any country. So far, we have set everything in motion towards attaining these goals but they are not low hanging fruits and some of them will need time to become ripe enough for plucking.
- However, government is a continuum and as long as subsequent administrations keep to the track, mining will become the crown jewel of our economy.
- I must appreciate the efforts of our staff here whom we have sometimes pushed to the limits in order to achieve our mandate. We are grateful for their cooperation and we hope that they will continue to work hard for the attainment of the goals we have set here.
- Details of what we have been able to accomplish so far is contained in the speech of my brother and friend, Dr Kayode Fayemi. It is a product of hardwork and the commitment of all stake holders. Permit me therefore to express our gratitude to our development partners and all those involved in mining in Nigeria; the security agencies, members of the press and most especially, the senate and the house of reps for their cooperation.
- Permit me to call out for special mention, our dear Permanent Secretary, the bulldozer himself, Alhaji Mohammed Abbas, a man who has been a pillar of support and the arrow-head of our progress since he arrived here a year ago. For me personally, he has proven himself to be a friend, an adviser and a brother. As he leaves us next month, I want to use this opportunity to commend his service to this ministry, his service to his fatherland, and his service to humanity. Although his time with us has been short, it has been very memorable and we shall never forget him.
Finally, let me salute the courage and hardwork of our leader, the team captain, Dr Fayemi, the man with the Midas touch who has coincidentally been placed in charge of the gold sector. I want to ask, if the man with the Midas touch touches gold, what happens? I think we are truly on the road to shared mining prosperity. Ekiti’s lost, has been Nigeria’s gain. God always has the best plans.
Thank you all and welcome to the official unveiling of our automated web-portal.
Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari
Minister of State