The need for Nigerians to explore the abundant solid minerals deposits in the country has been stressed.
Stakeholders in the nation’s solid minerals sector and associated industries stated this recently in Ilorin, Kwara State, at Nigerian International Materials Congress (NIMACON 2019) jointly organised by the Materials Science and Technology Society of Nigeria (MSN), the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) and the University of Ilorin.
They, however, identified solid minerals as a way of boosting economy, considering the decreasing demands for crude oil in the international market.
Declaring the conference with the theme ‘Sourcing and Management of Materials Resources for Sustainable Economic Diversification’ open, Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin and professor of Chemical Engineering, said it was high time Nigeria gave the exploration and exploitation of the nation’s huge solid minerals serious concern in view of the decreasing dependence on crude oil by the nation’s hitherto customers, particularly the advanced nations at the global oil market.
Abdulkareem, who was represented by Timothy Olarewaju Adedoyin, provost, College of Health Sciences of the university, explained that “oil will dry up soon and if not, it will become irrelevant,” saying that in view of that reality, Nigeria must begin to diversify its economic base in the interest of the present and future generations.
While stating that the University of Ilorin has taken that reality into cognizance long-ago with the establishment of relevant well-manned academic departments and resourced research outfits to assist in the generation of much-needed manpower and material wherewithal in the field of Materials Science and Technology, the vice-chancellor urged the government not to waste further time in encouraging organised large-scale mining of solid mineral resources the nation has been blessed with, to address increasing economic challenges.
In his lead presentation at the event, Suabu Hassan, director-general/chief executive of the Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences, Jos, stressed the need for Nigeria to seriously explore and exploit her vast natural resources to stimulate its economic growth.
Hassan pointed out that the nation’s over-dependence on oil in the last six decades accounted for its slow development, saying that the discovery of the crude oil in commercial quantity in the late 1950s led to the abandonment of the exploration of solid minerals, which started in 1902, by the country’s successive governments.
The renowned scholar predicted that very soon oil and gas wiill be of no use, adding that little revenue will be generated from the oil sector in view of the increasing technological innovations being recorded in the advanced countries, which will lead to low demands for oil in the next few years.
He said if solid mineral materials exploration remains neglected, the nation would remain poor, noting that there is hardly any local government area or state across the country that does not sit on high-grade but untapped solid mineral resources.
Hassan disclosed that “as at the last count, the nation has no fewer than 44 known mineral resources and that, if and when fully exploited, can provide 5 million jobs and generate between 3 and 6 percent GDP and about $27 Billion revenue by the year 2025.”
SIKIRAT SHEHU, Ilorin