Many citizens have continued to discuss the presidential aspiration of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State even as notable personalities in the country have continued to endorse him for 2023 presidency.
In this exclusive interview, the Kogi State Commissioner for Solid Minerals Development, Engineer Abubarka Bashir Mohammed bared his mind on issues partaining to revenue generation and job creation in the state’s mining sector as well as chances of Governor Yahaya Bello’s interest in becoming Nigeria’s President in 2023, among other issues.
Kogi State no doubt is blessed with natural resources, haven come on board as a Commissioner in the state, what innovations have taken place to tap the vast resources for human benefits?
First and foremost, I will like to sincerely thank His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello for establishing the Ministry of Solid Minerals in Kogi State. The world itself is going into diversification, so Nigeria is not left out and Kogi State is not left behind as well.
The efforts of his Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello to put Kogi State on the world map is what we are trying to help him to achieve or actualize. Though he has done wonderfully well in the first tenure, the second tenure is another tenure of the Governor to reposition the state, economic wise and infrastructural wise.
Talking about the issue of economic development, there is need to develop the solid mineral sector. We came on board, January 2020 and as a leader of the ministry, we are able to tell the world about the solid mineral resources that Kogi State is endowed with. The one we can see physically, the one we are tapping and those yet untapped.
There are also other minerals not known to the larger society; that is, the world. As I speak with you right now, we have new discoveries. The likes of pinnites is found in Kogi State in Kogi Local Government area in particular. His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has been striving hard to make sure that whatever we need to develop the sector faster is made available to us. As I speak with you today, you see a lot of investment have taken place in the solid minerals sector. Investors from China, Australia and South Africa.
They are trooping in because of the genuinely of the government, the seriousness of the government to reposition the state through the Solid Minerals Ministry. Investors know that when they come to Kogi State, any minerals highlighted to them from us is genuine. They will get it not on papers, but physically. We have a lot of them, such as gold, coal, lime stone, iron ore and the host of others. Recently, the Federal Government want to establish a gold processing centre for the North Central.
They have looked at the viability of where they can get specific mineral in abundance. Out of the six North Central States, Kogi is the only state that has the capacity in terms of this minerals in question , in terms of manpower, in terms of other facilities which the state government led by Alhaji Yahaya Bello has provided for smooth take off. He has provided two hectares of land, transformer, roads, water for the site and so on.
The state government has given the opportunity for the establishment to come quickly. By the grace of God, by the end of June this year, Kogi State will be commissioning one of the largest Gold Processing Centre in Mopamuro Local Government Area of Kogi State.
We have cases of illegal mining all over the country, what is the state doing to address the challenges posed by illegal miners?
Let me speak about security generally. Before the coming of Alhaji Yahaya Bello, you know how this state is positioned in terms of criminality. The State is synonymous to criminal activities and when his government came on board, he made that as a top priority. His primary constitutional role is to protect lives and properties of the people and he has never relented in his efforts. With his zeal, he has been able to bring the issue of insecurity to the barest minimum.
Previously, there are cases of illegal miners and they are much in numbers. However, as I speak with you now, there are no illegal mining activities going on in Kogi State. What we did as a ministry was to regroup those people we termed as illegal miners and convert them to artisanal miners.
When they become artisanal miners, they work for the state. Not directly, but through them, you can generate revenue. You get tax from them, so they are indirectly working for the state. I think this is a plus for the state and the country. You can see that the loop holes where this revenue lapses were available in the past, today the lapses were closed. It is the handiwork of his Excellency.
His doggedness and will power propelled us with courage to key into his agenda and help to actualise his dream. He wouldn’t like to have what is happening in the core Northern state like Zamfara where illegal mining activities have attracted banditry, kidnapping and all sorts of crimes. So in this state, we tried all our best to see that we are not pushing them away but regroup them to become artisanal miners to give them sense of belonging.
The state government is currently helping some of the group with facilities such as: finance, machinery and other implements for mining activities. With that, they had commenced operation and are paying back at flexible period. That is what we have done so far to curb the issue of illegal miners in the state.
Let’s go a little away from your office. Of recent, The All Progressive Congress (APC), commenced both registration and revalidation of membership across the country. What is your accessment of the exercise in your area?
Commenting on the political circle now, the APC as a party and platform is one of the best avenue I have ever engaged in. Interestingly, APC is not the first party I have joined.
However, right now I have seen the light in APC. I have seen sincerity in APC and I have also seen fairness, justice and equity in the party. APC is equally lucky to have the crops of leaders like the acting Chairman, Mai Mala Buni, the Governor of Yobe State. Also our Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello who is very straight forward in thinking, who is very brilliant in excercising his right as citizen of the country.
A friendly Governor and a unifying factor. With the caliber of people in APC, I think the party will get it right more than how it was in 2015. I appeal to all citizens, for the betterment of our future to join APC and put our house together. It is when you are in APC that you are in a better position to fight for your right. It is when you are in the system that you can ask for what belongs to you. So, if you are not part of APC you cannot be talking of what belongs to Mr A or B.
Therefore, we must belong to the party and attract the benefits to our people. In my constituency, our efforts are yielding positive results. A lot of people are rushing to the party. Infact, while I was coming this morning, I received somebody who said he wants to work with APC because of Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello.
He said the good things he has done for our constituency, the infrastructural development, the inclusiveness of women in governance, his disposition to the youths wooed him to the party. The opportunity given to the youths in the state snowballed into youths across the country demanding for his interest in the next presidential election.
Still on politics, Governor Yahaya Bello has attracted so many eminent personalities in the country on his presidential ambition. Sir how would you rate his chances of emerging victoriously…?
(Cuts in…) Governor Yahaya Bello is a candidate to beat in 2023. I don’t think there is anybody who has his pedigree in ruling this nation as far as I am concerned. His chances is very very bright because what Nigeria needs is how to secure the nation first.
Whoever can secure the nation has a brighter chance of emerging victorious in 2023. If you look at Governor Yahaya Bello and his style of leadership in Kogi State, you would definitely agree with me that he has the capacity to rule the nation. Kogi State is a replica of Nigeria as a whole. We have multiple languages, religion, ethnic groups and Governor Bello manged to unify all despite the diversities and differences.
What we did was to recognise the position of the state as the number one priority irrespective of where you are coming from, religion or ethnic background. So, if he can secure the state and unify the multi ethnic groups in the state, I think he can definitely replicate that at the national level.
His chances is very bright. I have seen so many people, all past leaders especially President Olusegun Obasanjo, the likes of Abdulsalam Abubarkar, Ibrahim Babangida, General Yakubu Gowon rtd and the host of others have given him their blessings. The agitation is not between North or South or which ethnic groups deserve the exalted position. We need someone who doesn’t care whether you are from the North or South to rule the nation.
The one with the capacity and doggedity to move the nation forward. Look at the issue of Covid 19, Governor Bello stood up as a unique individual, telling us the politics in COVID-19. What ever position he maintained today, if you can give him two to six days, you will see that the Western world will say the same thing. Interestingly however, as he is saying it in the country, some people never believed him. When he said the people should “open their eyes” before taking the vaccine.
People are not listening, but today some countries have banned some vaccine meant for the prevention of COVID-19 due to casualties recorded during the clinical trials and vaccination of the people. Bello is a leader with sincerity of purpose, a leader with milk of human kindness, a leader who wants the best for his people. I think his chances of becoming the president is very bright and God is going to do it for him and for us.
Back to your office, between now and 2023, what and what do u think you would have achieved for the people of Kogi State?
Employment opportunities; I will like to start from there. The ministry itself is capable of employing more than 5000 youths. As I speak with you right now, the artisanal miners that are formerly called illegal miners are about 3000 across-board. We have converted them to be genuine miners. So we have more than 3000 youths engaged already. So the issues of employment, one way or the other is solved.
By the time we inject additional 2000 youths to the sector from now till the end of 2021, we should have close to 5000 youths working in the mining sector. With that, the issue of employment is settled to some extent. Revenue generation is another aspect we are looking forward to.
By the end of 2022, I think the state would not be dependable on the Federal Allocation. We know what we are doing and what we have put in place. That is why we have open the sector to investors who have the means to assist in moving the sector forward.
The Governor has given the enabling environment, free security, accommodation, and so on. With that , we expect the very best in the mining sector. So by the end of 2022, the mining sector would have become the cash cow of Kogi State. By the grace of God, Kogi State will not be depending on allocation from the Federal Government.