From Shuaibu Zubair Tatu, Birnin Kebbi
The Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has flagged off the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining and Biometric Data Capture and Enrolment Exercise on Saturday, in Yauri Local Government Area of Kebbi State, in conjunction with the federal government.
The Hon. Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch Olamilekan Adegbite in his keynote address at the flag off ceremony in Yauri, said the initiative under PAGMI was to formalise the artisanal gold miners cooperatives with a view to support them.
This is contained in a statement by Mallam Yahaya Sarki, Senior Adviser to Gov. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, and made available in Birnin Kebbi yesterday.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development was represented by Mr.Patrick Ojeka, said the steps taken would lead to improved practices, access to finance & equipment, create jobs and sanitize the artisanal miners operations.
The minister further said “undoubtedly, it will grow the economy of the state through diversification into solid minerals development.”
He also added that, the flag off ceremony was part of on-going process to support the formalisation and integration of artisanal and small scale gold mining activities into the nation’s legal, economic and institutional framework thereby promoting Nigerian mineral processing and value addition industries that strengthens backward and forward linkages, resolve any institutional and legal barriers that currently exists within the value chain.
The minister announced that centralised buying centres would be established within the state, with the CBN as the caretaker, while assuring that the program would smoothly be implemented and measures taken to ensure sustainability.
Adegbite, thanked the good people of Kebbi State and state government for their support and cooperation.
Also in her brief address on the programme, 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 which Kebbi had excelled, and the solid Minerals sector.
She said “President Buhari wants to create more jobs in rural areas of Nigeria in line with his mission to create million jobs”.
Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi said the National Identity Management Commission ( NIMC) would enroll the first batch of artisanal gold miners under the pilot scheme.
The Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu 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 can be produced at market prices and the miners can live their useful lives.
He commended the President for selecting Kebbi State 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, organized themselves and properly use whatever assistance that come their way while appealing to the them to ensure that they do their business in a transparent manner for the benefit of their families, state and Nigeria to reciprocate the kind gesture. Governor Bagudu is the Vice Chairman of the national steering committee of the program.
The AUTHORITY correspondence reports that the programme which is a federal government initiative to be operated by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI ) is partnering the Kebbi State Government 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.