The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) is set to enter into a partnership with the National Metallurgical Development Centre (NMDC) on the resuscitation of the mining and minerals sector for the socio-economic development of the country.
This was the crux of deliberations when the executive vice chairman of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna led a delegation of the top management staff of the agency on a working visit on the NMDC director-general, Prof. Linus Asuquo at the centre’s headquarters in Jos, Plateau State.
Haruna posited that the collaboration is towards exploring value addition in the mineral and metals subsector through research and development of abundant local raw materials found in the country’s soil.
“Nigeria’s economic diversification efforts will not give the desired socio-economic targets or depths in creating jobs or wealth and tackle social vices associated with unemployment if the strategies do not take into account the conversion of the natural resources and minerals into finished products, thereby creating the windows for the manufacturing sector to add value to the economy,” he said.
The NASENI boss pointed out that with the agreement now in the works between NASENI and NMDC, hopes are brightened and the roles of NASENI – as Nigeria’s foremost agency responsible for designing, development and production of critical engineering infrastructure for the centre to add value to the mineral and metals sub-sector – is being boosted.
Listing activities of the centre, Asuquo pointed out that the NMDC is a Federal Government centre with the mandate and responsibility to undertake, through laboratory research and tests, mineralogical appraisal, examination and evaluation of mineral deposits and endowments in the country and to carry out samples to ascertain the minerals spaces contained in Nigeria’s soil.
“Other functions of the NMDC include carrying out applied research, development of both conventional and refractory products, using mineral raw materials and improvement of processes used in metallurgical and allied industries for steel production, fabrication and utilisation.
“[The] centre was carved out to be the feeder of raw materials for the take-off of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, Itakpe Steel Rolling Complex and other iron-smelting industrial complexes which have slowed down the nation’s industrial development, due to their inability to take-off,” he added.
Asuquo, who was optimistic about the benefits of the budding collaboration, said: “the good works which NASENI is carrying out in the country are well known to all. Therefore, NASENI’s capability to transform NMDC’s outcomes through engineering and industrial uses will no doubt bring about rapid industrialisation capable of addressing unemployment, poverty and safe foreign exchange for Nigeria”.
Haruna said that both organisations would commit themselves to the economic diversification agenda of the Federal Government by ensuring that the iron and steel, minerals and metals sub-sector of the economy are explored to the benefit of the citizens and redirect people’s minds from oil.
A statement by the NASENI deputy director, information, Olusegun Ayeoyenikan, said NASENI will fabricate the machines and all needed capital goods and equipment by NMDC while the centre will continue to carry out the required research and development into the discovery of more potential mineral and metals deposits in the country which are the very critical foundational possessions which Nigeria must have before dreaming of peculiar industrialisation or industrial economy.
“We cannot industrialise our economy without paying attention to the conversion of the nation’s solid and ‘soft’ minerals for viable uses. Also, our diversification efforts will not be successful without fabricating the needed tools, machinery, capital goods and equipment to process iron, steel or other minerals’ deposits,” said Haruna.
He also disclosed that NASENI had no alternative other than to collaborate with the NMDC to fulfil its mandate and vision as the only purpose-built agency of the government established to provide engineering infrastructure, creation of capital goods, machines and equipment aimed at industrialising the country.