Abuja – A presidential aide, Prof. Sylvester Monye said that earnings from a well-established solid mineral sector would surpass revenue from the oil sector.
Monye, Special Adviser to the President on Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, made this known at a roundtable on Natural Resources and Economic Growth in Abuja on Friday.
He expressed concern that the solid mineral sector was still largely untapped and characterised by artisanal mining.
“The country has 34 solid minerals ranging from fossil fuel and radioactive minerals to metallic and non-metallic minerals.
“It is obvious that an established and well-managed solid mineral sector will provide gainful employment and a rise in national income earnings far in excess of what the petroleum sector is generating for the country.’’
To improve activities in the sector, Monye said that the present administration transformation agenda had prioritised reforms of the mode of exploitation of natural resources.
According to him, government is providing technical assistance to small scale miners in addition to extension services to mining cooperatives on exploration activities.
Senator Abudllahi Adamu told reporters at the roundtable organised by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies that government had not done much to harness the country’s vast natural resources.
“We are talking of Vision 20:2020 to make Nigeria among the top 20 most industrialised economies in the world, 2020 is mere eight years from this day.
“We are not moving fast enough to attain the goals of the vision; we have not seen much done for the solid minerals, the minister has been up and doing but there’s a limit to what the ministry can do.’’
He called for increased spending and infrastructure in the sector to ensure diversified growth of the economy from the non-oil sector.
“The country right now is not getting much from the sector, in terms of GDP, what the sector is contributing is very small,’’ Adamu stressed.
Prof. Epiphany Azinge, the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies maintained that diversifying the economy remained the only option to make Nigeria one of the best economies by 2020.
“Basically, I think we should be looking way beyond oil and try as much as possible to start thinking of other natural resources that we are well endowed with.’’
Azinge said that government should intensify efforts on how “to explore and exploit all the necessary avenues, especially the core natural resources like Bitumen, Granite among others.’’
He said that the rising poverty in the country could be completely wiped off if the potentials in the natural resources sector were properly harnessed. (NAN)