By Mohammed Kandi
In a swift move to restrict the smuggling of mineral resources out of the country, the Federal Government has concluded plans to set up mineral trade centres in various states of the federation.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Musa Mohammed Sada disclosed this in Abuja when he received a delegation of government officials led by Chief Moses Alake Adeyemo, the Oyo state Deputy Governor in his office.
In a statement by Ambrose Momoh, Deputy Director of Press in the ministry, the Minister said: ‘’One of the biggest problems we have in mineral exploitation in the country is smuggling and gemstone is the biggest victim as eighty percent of this mineral that is exploited in Nigeria is smuggled and that is worrisome.”
Sada further explained that the establishment of mineral buying centres was major priority of the federal government saying “We are looking at setting up three mineral buying centres, it does not have to be gemstone, it depends on what minerals are being exploited in each state, just a pilot programme.”
He also commended the Oyo state government for its commitment towards development of the country’s minerals and metals sector.
“Oyo state being one of the centres of mineral activity had informed our visit to the state up to three times since I took charge as the Minister of Mines and Steel Development .
He also informed that at least 70 – 80% of gemstone exploitation was done in Oyo state, resulting to the creation of large number of value chain.
He pointed out that the ministry was already working with private investors, Miners Association of Nigeria and other relevant stakeholders in setting up mineral buying centres which would have Oyo state as one of the locations.
Sada disclosed that Oyo state with its level of mining activities had been issued 173 mineral titles, 87 exploration licences, 6 mineral licences as well as 5 small scale mining licences and 75 quarry licences by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Governor of Oyo state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi who was represented by his deputy Chief Moses Alake Adeyemo, said they were in the ministry to seek more collaboration with the federal government, particularly on the establishment of International Gemstone Buying Centre as well as the development of its marble deposit located in Igbeti community in Oyo State.
He said each state of the federation was blessed with one mineral deposit or the other, adding that ‘’Unless we are able to harness all these minerals and make sure that we prepare for the rainy day, I think Nigeria will be in problem’.
He called on the federal government to assist to develop the minerals deposits in the state to boost the revenue generation and employment opportunities for its teeming youths.