President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said his administration was committed to diversifying the nation’s economy from dependence on oil and gas using mining and agriculture sectors as viable options.
He stated this while declaring open the 56th annual international conference and exhibition of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), held at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan.
President Buhari who spoke through the Minister of State for Mines and Steel, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, said the mining and agriculture sectors have huge economic potentials in creating well-paid jobs and wealth for people in the country.
The president who admitted that the security challenges confronting the nation has affected the mining sector, however, said his government would tackle insecurity headlong.
President Buhari promised that his government would scrutinise the recommendations contained in the Communique of the Conference with a view to adopting and implementing them.
His words: “The centrality of the development of the mineral and energy sectors in the rejigging of the nation’s economy had necessitated the roll-out of series of policy initiatives aimed at not only revamping the Nigerian economy but to ensure that the economic growth arising therefrom are inclusive and sustainable.”
“This means that we are not only interested in the macro-economic growth alone but in getting the growth to be felt by the most vulnerable groups of our citizens, who are usually left behind by the conventional economic models.”
“In shaping the policies and initiatives in these sectors, the Administration has generously received massive technical support from the professional Societies and Associations making the policies indeed to be homegrown solutions rather than those imposed on us.”
“The development of the Roadmap for the Mineral Sector would not have been possible without the active collaboration of the NMGS and its members who assisted in getting critical details of the Roadmap developed and the sustained implementation since it was launched.”
“The Roadmap provided a clear pathway for the development of a robust, resilient and sustainable mineral sector of the economy that contributes meaningfully to the nation’s GDP and most importantly provides jobs for the teeming army of the unemployed in the country.”
“Let me also reiterate that the current reform being implemented in the Oil and Gas sector under my watch as Minister of Petroleum Resource have received generous inputs and participation of members of this professional body that are either working in government agencies or private companies.”
“The expansion of the domestic gas utilisation policy being implemented is one of the derivable benefits of engagements of the Nigerian professionals from all backgrounds especially those in the geosciences and mining sector.”
“As a nation, we are currently battling various forms of security challenges and working relentlessly in providing innovative solutions to the myriads of challenges that are confronting the citizens. A few of our people had resorted to breaking the law and outright criminality by engaging in banditry and all sorts of illegal activities.”
“These nefarious activities have serious implications for the various reform agendas this administration has embarked upon in the mineral, energy and agricultural sectors. It is difficult to achieve any meaningful development in any environment plagued with security challenges.”
“Distinguished mining engineers and geoscientists, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to use this forum to reiterate my administration’s commitment to diversifying the nation’s economy away from dependence on oil & gas using Mining and Agriculture sectors as viable options.”
“I have no doubt that these sectors have huge economic potentials. The mining industry for example has a large capacity in creating well-paying jobs and wealth for our people,” President Buhari said.
In a paper titled: “Expanding the Frontiers of Exploration, Creating New Opportunities for Growth,” the Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, said the nation needed to move away from oil and focus more on gas, while he pledged the readiness of NNPC to Collaborate with relevant stakeholders to put the nation on the path of development.
“As the transition to cleaner energy garner momentum, it is also expedient for oil-rich Nations like Nigeria to produce proven oil and gas reserves resource to support growth, economic diversification and job creation to millions of young people.”
“But this is not a statement of apprehension on the global transition to cleaner energy, as crude oil is likely to remain relevant beyond the next fifty (50) years.”
“This is owing to the fact that anticipated economic growth and rising global population especially in Asia and Africa where young people account for almost a half of the population will significantly push energy demand upward where renewable energy sources cannot meet by 2050.”
“Global energy consumption is expected to grow from 2018 levels by about 50% by 2050. This means that oil will continue to be a crucial component of the world’s future energy and is likely to account for about 44% of World Energy Supply by 2050, compared to 53% today.”
“While we expand exploration activities to enable reserve growth and ultimately produce more oil and gas to support growth, it is of strategic importance to be cost-sensitive as COVID-19 pandemic has subdued any survival strategy that is not cost-sensitive. Efficiency has therefore become the new necessity and not option,” he said.
In his address, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, who noted that deregulation of oil was imminent, however, said there would be the provision of cleaner petroleum motor spirit to Nigerians before the deregulation.
The minister, who was optimistic that the regulation of PMS would be achieved this year, commended NMGS for its contribution to the development of the oil and gas sector.
Speaking at the conference, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, called for the delisting of mineral resources from the exclusive list for states to fully tap potential in mineral resources.
The governor said: “One of the factors holding back exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in various states, including Oyo State, is the ownership of resources.”
“Mineral development and exploration are currently placed on the exclusive list of the Nigerian Constitution. This has retarded the development of the sector and eliminated direct state and local people’s participation.”
“We know what this means in real terms: the state and the people have to wait to get a share of their natural resources instead of being the ones to share them.”
Governor Makinde equally said it was time for the National Assembly to push for resource control for the state to ensure meaningful development.
“As a matter of fact and urgency, here in Oyo State, we call for the delisting of the mineral resource ownership and development from the exclusive list.”