Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has said that the Solid Minerals Development Fund is a strategic intervention by the Federal Government, which is capable of propelling the country’s economic growth.
The governor said this in an address read on his behalf by his Chief of Staff, Dr. Gbade Ojo, at a two-day strategic engagement and sensitization workshop for stakeholders in the Southwest geo-political zone, held in Ibadan, on Wednesday.
He also advocated the assemblage of stakeholders in the industry to brainstorm and map out strategies towards attaining the objectives of the SMDF, which was established in 2017 to administer accruing funds meant for solid minerals development.
The Executive Secretary, SMDF, Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi, had said that the workshop was aimed at exposing the stakeholders to the opportunities and benefits in the mining sector as an alternative revenue earner.
Ajimobi said that the FG’s objective aimed at facilitating the desired growth and sustainable development of the mining sector was in agreement with the vision of his administration to tap the potential in the solid minerals development sector.
The governor said, “There is no debating the fact that for Nigeria to achieve her desired growth, particularly in the solid minerals sub-sector, there is need for an intervention like the SMFD.
“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.”
The governor said that the state was exploring the benefits in agriculture and solid minerals as its own pragmatic measure to wean itself from overdependence on the dwindling oil revenue coming from the centre.
This, he said, informed the decision of his administration to establish the Mineral Development Agency, which is responsible for the creation of wealth from mineral resources for the benefit of the citizens and to attract local and foreign investors.
Ajimobi said that the government’s decision to invest in the solid minerals development sector had caused an increase in the state’s internally generated revenue, as well as the collection of 13 per cent derivation from the mineral resources from the FG.
He said that the effort had also resulted in the discovery of gold deposits, which had earned the state licence for the exploration of talc and gold in Kajola Local Government Area of the state.
The governor 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 the necessary steps that would facilitate access to the fund.