The governor of Zamfara state, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar has revealed that the state experiences an annual loss of over five hundred million US Dollars ($500m) to illegal mining business.
Speaking during a special paper presentation by scholars held at the JB Yakubu Secretariat, Gusau to mark the 20th anniversary of the state, the governor explained that the figure is not only alarming, but also depriving the state of substantial amount of revenue needed for economic development.
He disclosed that initially, about 1000 prospective investors for mining business were registered out of which only 200 obtained licences. He also revealed that out of the 200, only 11 were operational, from which two of them engaged in medium mining operation, while only one was on large scale mining operation.
Yari strongly condemned the situation, explaining that gold deposit ranks as a leading economic potential after agriculture in the state.He also regretted that the sector has not been affording the state the opportunity to earn anything as revenue.
The governor said the interactive session which was scheduled to be the concluding activity in the line of programmes to mark the 20th anniversary of the state, was now shifted to the 29th of this month when selected scholars on economic matters are expected to deliberate on the issue and come up with recommendations on how the state will be a major beneficiary of its resources.
The paper presentation was attended by important personalities including all the former governors of the state, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and governor of Kebbi State, as well as many other dignitaries across the country.
Meanwhile, Prof. Lawali Abubakar, Director, Centre For Agriculture and Pastoral Research of the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto called for the diversification of the economy through huge investment in agriculture and mining.
Speaking in Sokoto, over the weekend, Abubakar said diversification of the economy in the two sectors could tackle poverty and the economic challenges bedevilling the county. He said the federal and state governments should make available farm inputs to farmers between April and June every year at affordable rates to enable them access the commodity on time.
He emphasised that this would prepare ground for farmers to plant various crops and ensure massive production with a view to enhancing food security in the country .
He also called for the provision of seeds as well as retraining of agriculture extension workers by experts to properly educate farmers on the new methods and techniques of farming .
Abubakar also urged the extension workers to be close to the farmers for proper sensitisation on modalities of maintaining crops at early stage against any threat from pest.
He advised the Federal and state governments to come out with policies that would ensure that excess crops produced by farmers are purchased and stored in warehouses to ameliorate the hardship being faced by the people.