The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Kaduna State branch, yesterday rose from its quarterly review meeting to give reasons Nigeria has not been making fortunes from its abundant natural resources over the years especially in mining sector.
Among others, engineers believed that, Nigeria got it wrong around 1972 with indigenization policy which stipulated sharing of whatever accrued from mining between the mining investors and the indigene of the area which forced foreign investors to move to other countries that were more business friendly.
But, they were quick to expressed optimism that government is now doing a lot in this direction by way of reviewing its laws on mining and making the environment more friendly.
The keynote Speaker at the meeting, a Fellow of NSE, Engr. Ben Nwode, who spoke extensively on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) hammered on the need for every project to be assessed as it concern surface mining noting that, Nigeria is loaded with a lot of resources which are yet to be tapped into in huge commercial quantity even though mining is international business that has long gestation period.
“However, we are faced with some challenges. For example, we have shortage of manpower. In Nigeria, we have only two universities that offer mining as a course: Federal University of Akure and University of Jos that started few years ago. Luckily we now have Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria that is starting next session. Although we have Kaduna Polytechnic and a few others offering the course.
“We don’t also have plant to process what we explore into finish goods. So, we are selling our resources raw which has not help us to maximise our fortunes in mining. What this means is that, government need to support people who can process either finish or semi-finish goods.
“Then, discovery of petroleum in commercial quantity also dragged our mining strength backward. Also, metal market that collapsed sometimes ago as well as inadequate mining infrastructure and expertise are partly responsible for our predicament”.
The mining expert then suggested the need for government to strengthening its institutions which include but not limited to National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, National Iron Ore Mining Company, Metalogical Research Development Centre, Jos, Metalogical Training Institute and all the steel mill so the country can move forward.
“If these suggestions are added to whatever plan the government may have in this direction, you can imagine the number of people that will be employed in its value chain and other development that will naturally creep in. We just have to move from where are presently to where we ought to be in the committee of progressive countries”, he narrated.
In an interview with newsmen shortly after the meeting, Chairman, Kaduna branch of NSE, Engr. (Dr.) Abdulrasheed Babalola noted that, environmental impact assessment is relevant to engineers because before any infrastructural development could be initiated, it is important to assess both animals and environment.
This according to him is necessary to ensure that infrastructural development do not affect the population of human and other living things in the area and which is why, “government must insist that, before any project can be effected, proper assessment must be taken so we don’t use development to affect the habitat which may turn to be problematic for us in the future.
“For example, effect of dessert encroachment is already here with us and we need to respect the nature to guide against its effect which is usually devastated”, he warned.
POSTED BY EDITOR