FG’s Solid Minerals Development Fund strategic to economic growth- Ajimobi
The Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has lauded the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF) initiated by the Federal Government, describing it as a strategic intervention capable of propelling the country’s economic growth.
He made the disclosure in Ibadan on Wednesday, at a two-day strategic engagement and sensitisation workshop for stakeholders in the Southwest geo-political zone.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that SMDF was established in 2017, to administer accruing funds meant for solid minerals development.
The governor, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr. Gbade Ojo, advocated the assemblage of stakeholders in the industry to brainstorm and map out strategies toward attaining the objectives of the SMDF.
Ajimobi said that the objective aimed at facilitating the desired growth and sustainable development of the mining sector, aligned with his administration’s vision of harnessing potential in the solid minerals development sector.
“There is no debating the fact that for Nigeria to achieve her desired growth, particularly in the solid minerals sub-sector, there is the need for an intervention like the SMDF.
“Oyo State has large deposits of high quality marble. Other solid minerals available in commercial quantities are aquamarine, tantalite, tourmaline, granite, talc and the recently discovered gold deposits.
“As a matter of fact, the state will in the nearest future, establish an international gemstone processing centre and market where precious stones could be processed and polished before shipment to international markets,’’ he said.
The governor said that the state was exploring the benefits in agriculture and solid minerals as its own pragmatic measure to wean itself from over-dependence on the dwindling oil revenue coming from the centre.
According to Ajimobi, this is what informed the decision of his administration to establish the Mineral Development Agency, which is responsible for the creation of wealth from mineral resources, as well as to attract investors.
He said that the government’s decision to invest in the solid minerals development sector had led to an increase in the state’s IGR and collection of 13 per cent derivation on mineral resources from the Federal Government.
The governor said that the effort had also resulted in the discovery of gold deposits, which earned the state licence for the exploration of talc and gold in Kajola Local Government Area of the state.
He appealed to the SMDF to use the opportunity of the workshop to further enlighten and empower those in the mining sector by exposing them to necessary steps in facilitating access to the fund.
Earlier, Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi, the Executive Secretary, SMDF, said the workshop was aimed at exposing stakeholders to the opportunities and benefits in the mining sector as an alternative revenue earner.