By Abdallah el-Kurebe
The Federal Government, in conjunction with Kebbi state, on Saturday inaugurated the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining (PAGMI), Biometric Data Capture and Enrollment Exercise.
A Federal government initiative, the inauguration of PAGMI took place in Yauri local government, according to a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Governor, Yahaya Sarki and made available to Newsdiaryonline is, “to formalize the artisanal mining groups for the much needed support and capacity building aimed to upscale their processes,create more jobs and enhanced incomes.”
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch Olamilekan Adegbite, in his keynote address, said that the steps taken would lead to improved practices, access to finance and equipment, create jobs and sanitize the artisanal miners operations.
“Undoubtedly, it will grow the economy of the state through diversification into solid minerals development”, the Minister, who was represented by a Director at the Ministry, Mr.Patrick Ojeka, said.
Adegbite added that the inauguration was part of ongoing process to support the formalisation and integration of artisanal and small scale gold mining activities into the nation’s legal, economic and institutional framework.
He stressed that this would promote Nigerian mineral processing and create value addition for industries that strengthens backward and forward linkages, as well as resolve any institutional and legal barriers that currently exists within the value chain.
The Minister announced that centralised buying centers would be established within the state, with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as the sole off-taker, while assuring that the program would smoothly be implemented and measures taken to ensure sustainability.
Also in her brief address, the Executive Secretary of the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF), Hajiya Fatima Umaru Shinkafi, explained that Kebbi and Osun were selected to kick start the pilot project.
She said the program was part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic diversification agenda, through the Anchor Borrowers Program, in which Kebbi had excelled.
“President Buhari wants to create more jobs in rural areas of Nigeria in line with his mission to create million jobs”.
Shinkafi said the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), would enroll the first batch of artisanal gold miners under the pilot scheme.
Kebbi Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who is also the Vice Chairman of the national steering committee of the program, said President Buhari was convinced about the capacity of artisanal gold miners to be given opportunity to operate properly, legally and safely so that more gold could be produced at market prices and the miners could live their useful lives.
While commending Buhqri for selecting Kebbi as one of the states to benefit from the pilot scheme, the governor urged all the miners, who will be registered to be good ambassadors, organize themselves and properly use whatever assistance that come their way.
He appealed to them to ensure that they do their businesses in transparent manner for the benefit of their families, state and Nigeria to reciprocate the kind gesture.
Earlier, the the Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, applauded Bagudu for his economic diversification efforts through tourism, agriculture and the organization and formalisation of artisanal gold miners, to rebuild the state’s economy for the future, and serve the vulnerable members of the society.
The event was attended among others, by Emirs of Gwandu, Argungu, Yauri, Zuru, some members of the National Assembly from Kebbi state, State House of Assembly members, top government functionaries, Bank managers associations and members of the public.