FUTA 2013 Mining Engineering Graduates: An Open Letter To President Buhari: Mining Sector, A Neglected Industry(Goose) With A Huge Potential For Inexplicable Development(Golden Egg)

 

Dear Mr. President,

We are the graduate set of Mining Engineering 2012/2013 (graduated 2014 due to strike action) from The Federal University of Technology, Akure. The only set of Bachelor of Engineering in Mining Engineering produced in the country for the year with many counterparts distributed across various Polytechnics in the country.

We write to you with a sense of patriotism and loyalty to our dear country and with utmost respect for your leadership and administration.

We want to foremost commend you on your pursuit against corruption which has withered our economy, and the implementation of the process of Justice in the civil sector. We commend you on your fight against terrorism that is ravaging the existence of the lives of our brothers and sisters in the North-Eastern part of the country. Some of us who served in this zone of Nigeria have seen the horrors of terrorism and we will like to commend the Nigerian Armed Forces for their sacrifice since the war began. We commend you on your executive order in the clearing of Ogoni land. We also commend you on the foreign policies in strengthening security and democracy across the war ravaged countries in Africa and the stability your leadership is promoting across divides of Africa. Also, we congratulate the newly appointed and confirmed ministers of the Nations with the hope to get the best for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD), and finally pray for the fulfillment of the plans of this present dispensation; with life longevity for his Excellency.

We as concerned citizens are writing you because we want a leader like you to hear our salient voices in our struggle towards promoting the Solid Mineral industry. We and the industry have been neglected without the hope of remembrance. We have been shown no recognition in the labour market for far too long than our conscience can bear. The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) was established in 1985 as a bold attempt by the Nigerian government to offshoot the rapid beneficial development of the country’s Solid Mineral resources. But the Ministry has had its share of appeasement of some political actors without the moral and intellectual capabilities to handle the sector which have inexplicably crippled a Ministry that has done well for other nations of the world. Here is the list of Ministers of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) and their related academic achievement since 2003.

  1. Magnus Odion Ugbesa (July 2003-June 2005) studied Political Science at First Degree and International Relations at Masters and was a lecturer before coming into Politics
  2. Obiageli Ezekwesili (July 2005-June 2006) had a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy and a Master of Public Administration degree trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant.
  3. Leslye Obiorah (June 2006-May 2007) is a Professor of Law
  4. Sarafadeen Tunji Ishola (July 2007-Oct 2008) obtained a Diploma in Marketing, was a lecturer at the Federal College of Education, Katsina and later joined the Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation, Abeokuta.
  5. Diezani Alison-Madueke (Dec 2008-March 2010) studied Architecture
  6. Arc Musa Mohammed Sada (April 2010-May 2015) also studied Architecture.

Mr. President, We believe this gives a little understanding where the neglect of the Ministry emanated from. These people have not been able to drive a formidable force to battle the Dutch Disease the Oil Boom of 1970 brought to our land; though we would not play ignorant of the policies that have been made by them but we care more about implementation than public information. Sadly, the official website of the Ministry is not assessable to the everyday internet users, which speak volume of the rot, decay and neglect of the Ministry; in which the original website www.mmsd.gov.ng does not seems to exist anymore. Mr. President, ‘information is key and knowledge is power’. The first point of contact any investor has with a country is based on whatsoever information the investors get to see on her website and that triggers and influences the physical presence of the investors. We believe no investor wants to come to a country with a dark view of neither their resources nor an out-of-date/nonexistence website. We desire a change and an upgrade in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) Sir.

Mr. President, We are addressing you as promising and courageous citizens with the understanding of the greatness the Solid Mineral sector can add to an emerging economy like Nigeria which presently accounts for only 0.3% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Comparing with fellow African economies, the Mining sector in South Africa accounted for 8.3% of GDP directly and nominal mining GDP of R279.7 billion was recorded in 2013, up from R270.2 billion in 2012. In Ghana, Mining industry account for 5% of the GDP whence the industry was expected to generate a revenue of US$35 billion in 2014. Namibia Mining sector made a direct contribution of 13% to GDP in 2014 with a revenue of N$21.61 billion, a 3.25 percent increase from 2013. While in Canada, Approximately 380,000 people across Canada work in the Mining and Mineral processing industries. Also, Mining contributed $54 billion to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013 and the industry accounted for 19.6% of the value of Canadian goods exports in 2013. The only question we ask ourselves while in school was “What are these Economies doing right that we cannot do better than them?” We have the Manpower and the intellectual prowess but our (Mining Engineers) neglect has made us a product of deviation into the Oil and Gas industry or even Banking sector whilst a greater part of the economy goes to shambles of oblivion.

Mr. President, it is imperative for the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) to be operational again because since its inauguration in 1983, the plant has been embroiled in managerial inaptitude and controversy, ranging from allegations of obsolete machines and outdated blast furnace model among others. We understand as a matter of fact and urgency that you are trying as much as possible to block leakages, cut down government expenses, repatriate stolen funds and so on but these acts alone are not going to be enough to sustain this great country’s economy if nothing is done with the Solid Mineral Endowment of the Nation which is enough to hold and stabilize our economy as a country without the incurable dependence on oil.

Mr President, what if crude sells between $25 – $50 per barrel for the next 8 years, do we have a hope as a Nation?

Another important reason why the Steel Industry has to work in Nigeria is the fact that we can actually produce military hardware, Nigeria made automobiles, trains and even flying machines. All we need to do is to invite manufacturing companies to come and invest in Nigeria because we have all it requires; the raw materials, the Landmass and the Manpower. The Steel industry if fully established will invariably generate nothing less than a million jobs for our teeming unemployed youths which will reduce the poverty index of the Nation. The same industry will generate power needed to carry out all the production processes as this country has enough coal reserve to power the whole Nation for years. The good news about these progress is that they are achievable within a very short period (36 months), and the best way to go about it is to seek partnership with any economic giant in this industry like South Africa, Canada, Australia, among others which will boost our international ties with these countries. Likewise, countries like Russia and Germany in the manufacturing industry for giant productivity.

Mr. President, we also like to bring to your attention an area of grave concern in the mining act; which is the restriction of state governments from developing the solid mineral endowment in their respective states due to the limitation of state authority provided by the Exclusive Legislative list in the 1999 Constitution. Item 39 in the Exclusive List includes ‘Mines and minerals, including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas’. A majority of these states are so poor and can barely survive, existing as they do on allocations from the Federal Government. Developing the Mining industry would boost the economy of such states by increasing their Internal Generated Revenue (IGR). A constitutional amendment would be required to so permit greater state government involvement but nonetheless it is worth considering. As stated in your manifesto titled ‘Roadmap to a New Nigeria’; “I will make sure people at a local level benefit from mining and mineral wealth by vesting all mineral rights in land to state”. We believe your words are your bound, as you are a man of integrity. Thereby, we hope to get this promised fulfilled in earnest.

Just for the record Mr. President, we will like to notify you about a fact as a reminder. Organized mining in Nigeria began as early as 1903 under the British colonial government. And by the 1940s, the country had become a major producer of tin, columbite, and coal. We as a Nation are blessed with over thirty two (32) discovered profit making solid minerals-iron ore, coal, tourmaline, gold, kaolin, limestone, dolomite, beryl, glass sand, bitumen, uranium, tin and its associated minerals and recently gypsum-which are found in commercial deposits across the country. Coal, for instance is a major player in the world’s energy mix. It makes up over 23% of the energy consumed in the world and it is used to generate over 40% of the world’s electricity. 77% of South Africa’s energy needs are provided by coal while our country is still experiencing insufficient power supply despite the fact the country has the best kind of coal. Likewise, Bitumen is used for making asphalt concrete for road surfaces and accounts for approximately 85% of the asphalt consumed in the United States while we still suffer of good roads irrespective of the abundance of Bitumen in our Nation. Many and innumerable Gemstones the world requires are buried beneath our feet but we are swayed by the sweetness of Oil.

Mr. President, We have a future as Nigerians blessed with the understanding of our endowments-human and natural resources. We have a hope as a Nation filled with brains and intelligential that know how these endowments can be harnessed towards a common good for the poor populace. Most of all, we have a leader that sees beyond, plans ahead, and makes a stance for the good and prosperity of his citizenry. And we believe someday, we will be proud not only as Nigerians but as Mining Engineers that sees the future-Solid Mineral-buried under the crust of our land. We hold on to the faith that we will soon smile to the World Economic Forum to talk about the inventions and developments mining has brought to our Nation and not about the unpredictable oil price. We will advise the United Nations as regards the unseen benefit embedded in the Solid Mineral endowment.

Mr. President, we have a hope not just for ourselves alone but for those we left in school with our present challenges and worries for their future in this country and most of all for posterity and the children in our bowels that might take this path of exploration.

Mr. President we need your intervention in this abandoned, dying, malnourished and neglected Goose capable of laying Unlimited Golden Egg.

Thank you while we await your reliable response.

Yours’ Respectfully,

Mining Engineering Graduate 2013

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Workers To Governors: Don’t Blow N713b Bailout Cash

Workers were yesterday in high spirits over President Muhammadu Buhari’s N713.7 billion bailout for states to pay outstanding salaries. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), hailed the president’s action. The NLC urged Buhari to ensure that the governors spend the money on salary arrears.

It warned against “a situation that the governors that could not manage their allocation properly will be rewarded by being given special recognition”.

The General Secretary of the Congress, Dr. Peter Ozon-Eson, said: “Our appeal is that Mr. President should please prevail on the governors to ensure that when they get these sharing they should not
again blow it on other things. The first priority must be defraying the arrears of salaries and pensions of pensioners who have not been paid for 11 to 12 months. ”

Ozon-Esson, who is also the NLC chief economist, said the congress was happy about the Federal Government’s intervention, recalling that the congress presented the debt profile to the Presidential Transition Committee.

In the three-pronged bailout plan is the N413.7billion special intervention fund, the N413.7b ($2.1b) Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) proceeds and a N300b Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention loan.

Federal workers who are being owed are also to benefit from the plan.

But labour officials warned the state governments against misapplying the cash.

Deputy President of the factional NLC Comrade Isah Aremu said: “President Buhari has been very vocal since he assumed office in making a case for workers to be paid as at when due.

“President Buhari once said that it is a disgrace that Nigerian states could not pay salaries. So, what he has done now is that he has commendably walked his talk. He has also shown that if there is a will, there will always be a way.

“Now, the defaulting governors must learn from the President’s approach – that you don’t have any excuse not to pay workers’ salaries. He has shown that no reason can justify why workers are not paid.

“The governors must also prioritise their needs henceforth in a way that workers are given priority and not rely on the President to give them bailout from the Federation Account”.

Aremu said labour was happy that Buhari already living up to his mandate, adding that what is important now is for it to be sustained.

The Nation