By Emeka Asinugo
Recently, Nigeria’s Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr Kayode Fayemi, expressed the government’s desire to partner with the World Bank in the development of the solid minerals sector. Dr. Fayemi disclosed this when a team of experts from the World Bank, led by the country director, Rachid Benmessaoud, paid him a courtesy visit in his office. At the meeting, the minister and his minister of state, Abubakar Bwari, said they were impressed with the support the financial institution was willing to give through their ministry towards infrastructural development in the country. Fayemi said the ministry had a proper regulatory framework in place but needed additional work to be done in the area of data consolidation. He emphasized the need for the sector to be strengthened while government seeks to attract foreign investors.
“In order to ensure that the ministry is well positioned as an enabler, a lot needs to be put in place. Additional work needs to be done on available data. We need to know the quantity and quality of the minerals we have. We also need to lay a proper foundation to attract crucial and major investors. We need to know why they are not here yet. Everything must be done to actualize President Muhammadu Buhari’s mandate to move the sector forward”, the minister said.
This is a very important and welcome development. Nigeria’s over-dependence on oil has never been a way forward for the nation. There has always been the need to develop other sectors of the economy, such as this and agriculture. For one reason, such developments will create the much desired employment for the nation’s teeming population of young school leavers. The gainful employment of more people means a reduction in crime rate in the country. Take the solid mineral sector for instance.
Nigeria is made up of about 250 ethnic groups and more than 250 languages. For administrative reasons, the government of General Ibrahim Babangida found it expedient to merge similar ethnic groups. It was projected that this might also be useful in the allocation of resources. In other words, the creation of six geo-political zones that now make up Nigeria is a major constitutional compartmentalization of the country by General Ibrahim Babangida which was effected during his tenure as military Head of State.
The South-South Zone:
This zone comprises of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers States. In this zone, Akwa Ibom State has in commercial quantity deposits of clay, lead, zinc, lignite (also known as brown coal), limestone, salt, uranium, oil and gas. Bayelsa State has Clay, gypsum, lead, zinc, lignite, limestone, manganese, uranium, oil and gas. Cross River State has got barite, lead, zinc, lignite, limestone, manganese, salt, uranium, oil and gas. Delta State has clay, glass-sand, gypsum, iron ore, kaolin, lignite, marble, oil and gas. Edo State has bitumen, clay, dolomite, phosphate, glass-sand, gold, gypsum, iron ore, kaolin, lignite, marble, oil and gas and Rivers State has clay, sand-glass, lignite, marble, oil and gas.
The South-West Zone:
This zone comprises of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo States. In this zone, Ekiti has got feldspar, granite, kaolin and syenite. Lagos State has bitumen, clay and glass-sand. But it is on the verge of joining the country’s oil-producing states with the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities in the coastal state. Ogun State has bitumen, clay, feldspar, gemstone, kaolin, limestone and phosphate. Ondo State has bitumen, clay, coal, dimension stones, feldspar, gemstone, glass-sand, granite, gypsum, kaolin, limestone, oil and gas. Osun State has columbite, gold, granite, gypsum, kaolin, limestone, oil and gas. And Oyo State has got aquamarine, cassiterite (also known as tin stone), clay, dolomite, gemstone, gold, kaolin, marble, silimonite, talc and tantalite.
South East Zone:
This zone comprises of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States. In this zone, Abia State has got gold, lead, zinc, limestone, salt, oil and gas. Anambra State has clay, glass-sand, gypsum, iron ore, lead, zinc, lignite, limestone, salt, phosphate and oil. Ebonyi State has gold, lead, zinc and salt. Enugu State has coal, lead, zinc and limestone. Imo State has gypsum, lead, zinc, lignite, limestone, marcasite (also known as white pyrite), phosphate, salt, oil and gas.
North Central Zone:
This zone comprises of Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger and Plateau States. In this zone, Benue State has barite, clay, coal, gemstone, gypsum, iron ore, lead, zinc, limestone, marble and salt. Kogi State has coal, dolomite, feldspar, gypsum, iron ore, kaolin, marble and tantalite and mica. Kwara State has got cassiterite, columbite, feldspar, gold, iron ore, marble, tantalite and mica. Nassarawa State has amethyst (topaz garnet), barytex, barite, cassiterite, chalcopyrite, clay, columbite, cooking coal, dolomite, marble, feldspar, galena, iron ore, limestone, mica, salt, sapphire, talc, tantalite, tourmaline quartz and zireon. Niger State has gold, lead, zinc and talc. Plateau State has got barite, bauxite, betonite, bismuth, cassiterite, clay, coal, emerald, fluoride, gemstone, granite, iron ore, kaolin, lead, zinc, marble, salt, tantalite, columbite, molybdenite, phrochlore, salt, columbite, tin and wolfram.
North East Zone:
This zone comprises of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe States. In this zone, Adamawa State has got betonite, gypsum, kaolin and mangesite. Bauchi State has gold, tin ore, columbite, gypsum, wolfram, coal, limestone, lignite, iron ore, and clay. Borno state has betonite, clay, diatomite, gypsum, hydrocarbon, kaolin and limestone. Gombe State has gemstone and gypsum. Taraba State has lead and zinc. And Yobe has soda ash and tintomite.
The North West Zone:
This zone comprises of Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States. In this zone, Jigawa State has butyles. Kaduna State has amethyst, aqua marine, asbestos, clay, flosper, gemstone, gold, graphite, kaolin, hyalite, mica, rock crystal, sihnite, superntinite, tentalime, topaz and tourmaline. Kano State has cassiterite, copper, gemstone, glass-sand, lead, zinc, pyrochinre and tantalite. Katsina State has kaolin, marble and salt. Kebbi State has gold. Sokoto State has clay, flakes, gold, granite, gypsum, kaolin, laterite, limestone, phosphate, potash, silica-sand and salt. And Zamfara State has coal, cotton and gold.
Despite the enormous solid mineral wealth that abounds in the country, it is difficult to see how these natural endowments have helped to make the ordinary Nigerian a happier person. Previous leaderships woefully failed to utilise these resources to salvage the fate of the ordinary Nigerian who walks the streets of the country’s villages, towns and cities because everybody looked up to crude oil and Abuja sharing the proceeds of the oil revenue.
Benmessaoud said the World Bank was aware of President Buhari’s emphasis on solid minerals and agriculture as two critical sectors which would boost revenue generation and create jobs for citizens. Benmessaoud said he was impressed with the administration’s plan to diversify the economy through solid minerals development. “However, the expected revenue cannot materialize immediately. What we must do is to lay the foundation now. The situation calls for a creative approach”, he said. The World Bank chief hammered on the need for a well structured strategy for large, medium and small scale mining projects, pledging the bank’s preparedness to assist the ministry in its effort to lift the sector and position it to meet its set goals. He was optimistic that the expected revenue and job creation would be realized with a well structured planning.
That having been said, it has become mandatory for the Buhari Administration to stay one step ahead by making the move now to consolidate zonal/regional autonomy through each zone being encouraged to develop the solid mineral resources in their zone for the development of their infrastructure.
* Mr Asinugo is a London-based journalist