What will make Plateau state’s plan to empower solid mineral entrepreneurs effective?

On Monday, the 26th of October, 2015, BusinessDay reported that the Plateau state government has expressed intentions to seek collaborative efforts with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to set students on the path to establish micro and medium scale businesses in the areas of solid minerals. This decision is in line with the earlier pledge given by Buhari’s administration to focus on economic diversification as a way of shifting attention from the oil and gas sector.

According to media reports, during the just concluded Abuja International Trade Fair, which held from September 18 to October 5, 2015, the state Governor, Simon Lalong, while declaring that the state will soon establish mineral plants in all localities in the state, said the proposed minerals to be explored are kaolin, gemstone, and lime.

The ITF had earlier expressed its commitment to promote skills acquisition in the country as well as eliminating youth unemployment. However, Plateau state needs to take action on the following factors:

Entrepreneurship in solid mineral exploration goes beyond the ITF

The ITF is in charge of providing a monitoring program to follow up on students progress as they go to different offices and companies to work as interns while collecting a stipend from both the ITF and the company (in some cases). It is the students who go in search of the companies they will work in, with help from their parents or distant relatives. Following this, the students and the companies they intern in are the main players during the training, therefore, the ITF may be a part of the skill acquisition and entrepreneurship process but they are not the integral part of the process. Plateau state government will have to identify and work with corporations like the Nigerian Mining Corporation (NMC), Franchise Minerals and Associated Mineral Resource Limited within the state to empower students on solid mineral entrepreneurship.

Road infrastructure in Plateau state is at its weakest

Omuji Jeffrey is an Architectural Science student of the University of Jos and has been resident in Plateau state for over a decade. He confirms that road networks in the state are in deplorable conditions. According to him, the former Governor of the state, Jonah Jang, did little or nothing to improve or even maintain the roads in the state, especially in Jos, the capital. Although in some quarters, it is believed that federal roads should not be maintained by the state. This will have a negative effect on the plans the state has to set up mineral processing plants, due to the fact that for more plants like the National Metallurgical Development Centre  (NMDC), Jos to be set up, poor road network will work against plans to effectively transport equipment to marked sites.

Students need to be empowered with information before anything else

Plateau state government needs to begin from the basics, many Nigerian students who may not have studied Geology in school, do not have the necessary information on the exploration of solid minerals. It is therefore important for the state to make available the information they need to enable them to decide if they are interested in setting up businesses in the solid mineral exploration sector. Putting state organized programs together, featuring experts from solid mineral companies like Izabella Nigeria Limited, Western Goldfields Group Limited and North South Extractive Company Limited to speak and demonstrate to students what the solid mineral exploration sector is all about will show the students, everything they need to know about the sector before they can take steps to set up enterprises in that regard.

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