By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, July 16, 2020 The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, says Nigeria’s flag-off of a gold purchase programme through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) signifies a defining moment for the country.
The minister stated this while addressing State House correspondents after the official virtual presentation of locally mined gold bars by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.
According to Adegbite, Nigeria is now a gold producer that stands to benefit a lot from the sale of the product as the ministry received a boost from President Muhammadu Buhari, leading to the success story.
“We have just celebrated something that is quite unique in the history of the country.
“We‘ve generated a London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) Gold Bar, the Bullion Bar from gold that is mined responsibly in Nigeria. This is a watershed for the country.
“This journey started a while back; the President is uniquely placed as the first President to give intervention fund to the sector.
“He gave us the filip by insisting we should diversify the economy by the mining sector.
“Having done that, this led to a series of activity, which culminated into the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI), which gave birth to this,’’ he said.
He listed Kebbi, Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Osun as States that were chosen for the pilot implementation of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining scheme, out of which he said Kebbi had taken the lead by producing the 12.5 kg LBMA Gold Bar.
Also speaking, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, expressed optimism that the scheme would go a long way in boosting the nation’s foreign reserves.
He said: “Like you all know for several years and decades, we have been talking about the need to diversify the revenue base of the Nigerian economy.
“We will say that today, this has been actualised in the sense that other than receiving dollar revenue from proceeds of sale of crude oil we have today received into our reserves through the purchase of this 12.5kg purified gold bar into our reserves, we have today received gold into our reserves.
“Gold is valued in the international market in dollars so what does that mean? This gold is valued at dollar sum that will go into our reserves.
“What does that also mean that for those who feel that the only way they can analyse Nigeria is to say what is the price of crude, is the price of crude high or is the price of crude low, they will now begin to see that at this time when the price of crude is low, the price of gold is rising, that the Nigerian economy remains strong, remains resilient to withstand the exogenous shocks that we see around today.’’
According to him, government is not resting its oars on revamping the economy especially in this era of COVID-19.
“We seize this opportunity to assure our friends both locally and internationally to say that the Nigerian government supported by the monetary authorities is doing everything possible to diversify the base of the Nigerian economy.
“In the coming weeks and months, Nigerians and the world will see more that is going to be done in improving the output from our agricultural sector, improving productivity from the manufacturing sector, doing everything to make it easy for goods to move from farms to market in Nigeria.
“All this are being done to ensure that the Nigerian economy remains resilient to withstand any shock that may come our ways,” he said.
Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, who also spoke to the correspondents, praised the effort of Buhari towards diversifying the economy and making the life better for Nigerians.
“The driving force is President Buhari, who supported the initiative that was created, the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI), which is a reflection of other efforts that the president has been doing to diversify the Nigerian economy.”
In her remarks, the Executive Secretary of the Solid Minerals Development Fund, Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi, commended the president for supporting the initiative, saying the vision is now established for the transformation of the nation economy.
She said: “We have started a good journey towards improving the economy and we are moving at a very fast speed.
“I hope that this will translate into a better life, most importantly for the households that we intend to impact in terms of making better standards of living for individual families that we are supporting directly and indirectly with the artisanal miners.’’
Shinkafi assured that the private sector would be carried along, in order to boost the economy.
“Also, it is very important that I mention that the private sector should not feel that this is going to crowd them out.
“So, this is supposed to encourage private-sector-led investment. They have a space to participate in PAGMI and the laws and regulations are there.
“We will sensitize people together with the Ministry and the States, who have been very supportive as well.
“So, in terms of what next, we hope to expand this and make the success of this pilot even bigger than this,’’ she added.