As part of efforts to boost the nation’s economy in the post-COVID-19 era, the Nigerian government has proposed a N2.3trillion to boost the mining and other sectors.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, who made this disclosure yesterday in an interactive session with newsmen on Federal Government’s post COVID-19 plans for the solid mineral sector said the ministry would get six billion naira from the total sum at the end of the day.
He explained that the ministry has lofty plans before the COVID-19 pandemic, which he has adversely affected the solid mineral sector considering its operations.
Adegbite said 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 the complex before the pandemic,” he said.
This, he said, was specifically so because Russian experts who supposed to come for the technical audit of the complex could not come because of the pandemic and the ban on flight operations.
He added that the idea was for the experts to come into the country and be hosted for 12 weeks within which they were expected to do a proper audit of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex.
He said this had been put on hold until the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ban on air travel was lifted.
“When this is lifted and we think it is safe enough, these experts will come into the country and we will continue where we stopped.
He added that the Ajaokuta Project Presidential Implementation Team (APPIT) was, however, still working but that the audit was very important to it.
According to him, the technical audit report is necessary to enable the APPIT to know the cost implication.
He added that because of the complexity of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, the online audit was not possible as people had to be physically present.
The minister added that government was, however, making efforts to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector.
“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 around.
“What the President Mohammadu Buhari-led administration has decided to do is to face this head-on and that is why we have come up with post-COVID-19 rescue operations.
“In this, the government proposes to spend N2.3 trillion, this is what the government intends to inject into the economy to counter the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.