This column is not for the faint-hearted. The line here is bold and brass, and this surely is the place where we call succubus by name.

Stuttering Steps of Progress

Re: Roadmap for the Growth and Development of the Nigerian Mining Industry

I have a very good friend: Oluwatobi Daniel Fayemiwo. Tobi is a man of few words; words that are usually measured to the mien and intellect of the parties to dialogue. The credulous and the ignorant are left clutching straws, but those who will aspire to wisdom gain insight; from what is said, and much more from what is inferred.

He it was that first drew a line for me in the sand; establishing by infallible events and facts, that Nigeria is actually moving forward as a democracy. Even if stuttering, there was a direction, and that, a good one. This is not the place nor the time to recount all the governments past, and their contributions to our evolving democracy, suffice it to say, that even Jonathan has played a part. But I will leave Tobi to do the talking, if/when he is encountered.

My focus here is on a document that I encountered recently, and which reinforced the veracity of my friend’s assertion, that every careful eye, perhaps every cold eye, will observe, that this giant may not be as inebriated as once thought. The roadmap produced by the ministry of solid minerals development is a document that observers of Nigeria should find time to read. I have no doubt that the “Miracle on the Han River” must have benefited from a number of such paper as this; progress and success are hardly every accidental or democratic. It takes few inspired to save many indifferent.

A lot of thinking has gone into the compilation of this document. There is unbiased identification of the failings and successes of the nation, including those of previous governments; analysis of the present situation, and a clear plan towards possible ends in the immediate, short, medium and long terms. The minister and his team have done a great job; I commend them.
The document is all of 100 pages; but it took me only a few hours to go through it all. Please read the document here (Nigeria_Mining_Growth_Roadmap_Final.pdf). But for those who just cannot find the time; here is a very brief summary-of-a-summary.

  • History:
    Mining used to contribute almost 5% of our nation’s GDP, but that was in the 60’s; things degenerated from the 70’s
    Today, mining contributes less than 0.4% to our GDP, but it could contribute much more, in earnings, employment, etc.
    Change of policy in the 70’s towards centralisation has not worked – now there is concerted effort to liberalise
  • Status Quo:
    Of the billions, and in some cases trillions of tonnes of resource in Nigeria, less than 1% is being actively exploited
    The socio-economic environment (infrastructure, policy, financing) is not conducive to majors, so small players dominate
    The small players lack the resources to be efficient miners, so they are not able to displace imports or add value
    Communities, migrants, and criminal foreigners operate in a largely unregulated, un-taxed, chaotic sector
  • Plan:
    Start with those things that we need at home, try to displace importers of same by improving local production
    Build capacity and competence, especially in value-add to the value chain, while empowering those closest to production
    Move out to compete on quality and cost in the global market

Each of these items are spelled out in great detail in the document, and I found it a comforting read, a reassuring read. I very strongly recommend reading the document, and criticising it. I choose to keep my own counsel, since I know, it is much easier to tear-down the Encyclopaedia Britannica than to compile it. Kudos to Fayemi and his team.
This is progress that we can access, criticise, observe, and monitor against defined milestones.
May God bless Nigera; amen.
Viva New Nigera!

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