Nigeria has proposed to inject N2.3 trillion to boost the mining and other sectors of the economy in post COVID-19 rescue operations.  The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who dropped the hint yesterday during an interactive session with journalists, pointed out that the ministry would get N6 billion from the total sum at the end of the day.

“This (N2.3 trillion) is what the government intends to inject into the economy to counter the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said, adding that the money had been allotted to different sectors of the economy, including the solid mineral sector.

“A large chunk of the money had been allotted to the sector to help counter the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. We intend to spend this fund and some other funds that are available to us to improve artisanal mining in the country and deepen our explorative projects,” Mr Adegbite said.

He regretted that the COVID-19 ravaged the mining sector in Nigeria, of which a concerted effort is needed to salvage the sector. The minister said however that the development was not peculiar to the solid mineral sector as other sectors of the economy were equally affected by the pandemic.

“The pandemic for instance, has limited our ability to go forward on the Ajaokuta Steel project, we are four to five months behind schedule according to the government’s plans to resuscitate x before the pandemic,” he said.

He regretted that it was for COVID-19 that the Russia experts slated to come for the technical audit of the complex could not come due to flight restrictions according to him, the idea was for the experts to come into Nigeria and be hosted for 12 weeks within which they would conduct a comprehensive audit of the Ajaokuta Steel complex.

Adegbite promised that when the situation improves “and we think it is safe enough, these experts will come into the country and we will continue where we stopped,” he said, adding that although the Ajaokuta Project Presidential Implementation Team (APPIT) was still working, the audit was very necessary and important. “The technical audit report is necessary to enable the APPIT to know the cost implication,” the minister said.

According to him, an online audit of the Complex is ruled out as people had to be physically present. “Now, the government needs to come up with a response because the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected our sector, as a lot of miners could not go to work for obvious reasons. 

“The consequence of this is that the output is zero and a lot of miners had been impoverished, this, however, is not peculiar to the sector, because it goes all round. He further said that the ministry was determined to take its road shows round the world to attract foreign investors into the country post COVD-19,” the minister said.

Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja

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