Eager to move away from crude oil as the major source of revenue and foreign exchange earner for the country, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday directed the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI) to provide a six-month progress report on the Solid Minerals Development Fund.
This demand was contained in a press release issued by Femi Adesina, the president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.
The directive according to t the press release was given when a delegation of the PAGMI Steering Committee and Management Team led by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogar, visited him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“The PAGMI Management Team should now develop innovative ways to move PAGMI to the next level to ensure the Nigerian mining story goes beyond artisanal and small-scale mining, the president said.
He stated that he supports the Steering Committee’s target of aggregating 3-5 tons of gold over the next 12 months as this will deliver tremendous fiscal and economic benefits to the nation. The Solid Minerals Development Fund should work with all relevant Government agencies to identify the support and funding needed to deliver on this aggregation target.
According to the president:“Now that you have successfully delivered a pilot scheme in Kebbi State, it is time to roll out and expand sustainably across other states. The government is committed to providing all the necessary support required.”
He, therefore, urged PAGMI to ensure that the solid minerals development fund fast-tracks delivery of other directives to support the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative.
“The dedication of a portion of accruals to create a sustainable income stream for the Solid Minerals Development Fund is essential to delivering the mandates assigned to the Fund. The development of a sustainable funding stream for the Fund will conclude the implementation of the Fund’s Establishment Act, which is a key focus area for this administration, “the president stated.
“This initiative is of great pride to me because through our intervention we can reach hardworking Nigerians in the field, toiling and the quarries under the sun trying to earn an honest living.
“We have been able to protect them from clutches of those who exploit their hard labor, while simultaneously bringing them into the value chain to earn improved income from their hard work. I expect a six-month progress report that will clearly show significant progress by scaling up the program from its current pilot stage.”