*Photo: Dr Dele Alake*
The solid minerals sector in Nigeria, abundant with 44 viable minerals, holds tremendous potential for economic diversification beyond the country’s reliance on oil. However, this potential remains largely untapped due to a series of challenges.
Banditry, illegal mining activities, administrative bottlenecks within government agencies, and fragmented relationships between state actors and the Federal Government have collectively impeded the efficient utilization of Nigeria’s solid minerals.
Dr. Alake, a visionary leader, recognizes the urgency of fostering cooperation among stakeholders to address these obstacles. Engaging with the Governors’ Forum and other key stakeholders, Dr. Alake aims to formulate a unified strategy to overcome these challenges, kickstarting tangible reforms in 2024.
One pivotal initiative proposed by Dr. Alake involves the establishment of a specialized mine police force and mine surveillance task force, dedicated to safeguarding mining operations which is in done in collaborative effort with the Ministry of Defense and other security agencies, aim to counter banditry and expose those engaging in criminal activities to siphon all the country’s mineral wealth.
The challenges facing the solid minerals sector are multifaceted and they include:
- Governance inefficiencies have perpetuated illegal activities such as illicit mining, theft, lack of accountability, and overall unprofitability.
- Insecurity arising from banditry and activities of non-state actors has led to violence, fear, and a disruption of mining operations.
- Corruption, in the form of various taxes, levies, kickbacks, and widespread graft among government officials and locals, has exacerbated the sector’s challenges.
- Additionally, the absence of local production has led to the bulk of mined minerals being exported, depriving the nation of opportunities for local employment and economic growth.
Dr. Alake’s strategic vision for 2024 revolves around key areas amongst others:
- Encouraging collaboration and synergy among stakeholders to foster more cohesive and effective operations.
- Prioritizing safety and security measures to protect mining sites and personnel through specialized interventions.
- Streamlining administrative processes to eliminate bureaucratic hurdles and create a conducive environment for efficient operations.
- Encouraging local production and exploration to bolster employment opportunities and contribute to the nation’s economic growth.
In summary, Dr. Alake’s visionary approach in 2024 marks a pivotal moment for Nigeria’s solid minerals sector. His comprehensive strategy, aimed at addressing the root causes of challenges and fostering collaboration, holds the promise of unlocking the vast potential of this critical economic domain.
- Arabinrin Aderonke is an award-winning investigative journalist, peace, gender and good governance advocate. A member of the Presidential Transition Council 2023. She writes from Abuja.