The Director General of the National Metallurgical Development Centre (NMDC) Jos, Professor Ibrahim Madugu, on Thursday said government must improve funding of the metallic sector as a strategy to strengthen the recently unveiled agenda for sustainable industrial revolution. Madugu who said the NMDC is expected to cater for the metallic research needs of the West African sub region said proper funding will enable it fulfill its statutory responsibility even as it is poised to continue to render qualitative technical assistance to the country. Francis ADINOYI KADIRI reports
The quest for Nigeria’s industrial revolution received a boost on Thursday as the minister of mines and steel development, Arc. Musa Mohammed Sada inaugurated the governing board of the National Metallurgical Development Centre, NMDC, Jos, at the minerals and metals complex, Abuja, and named Osifo Akpata as the chairman of the newly constituted board.
Director General of the NMDC, Professor Ibrahim Madugu while fielding questions from Blueprint shortly after the ceremony lauded the federal government’s newly unveiled agenda for industrial revolution even as he called for the development of metal-oriented industries saying that such is crucial to sustainable industrial revolution.
According to the professor, “the sector requires a lot of genuine input that will drive Nigeria’s industrial revolution forward,” adding that funding is still a major problem of the NMDC which was set up in 1973 to carry out research and development studies for the advancement of solid minerals and metals sector of the economy.
While he recalled that the NMDC has played crucial roles in the development of the country’s metal sub sector, professor Madugu said the NMDC can rival research centers like MINTEC – the renown metallurgical and solid mineral research institute based in South Africa if adequately funded, adding that Nigeria’s solid minerals sector has enormous potential to drive the Nigerian economy.
“While MINTEC has been able to cater for the metallurgical research needs of the South African region, the NMDC is expected to do same for the West African region but is hampered by inadequate funding, adding that the Egyptian metallurgical development center was also established to cater for the metallurgical research needs of the North African sub region.
“We need certain equipment which is capital intensive. If we have the equipment, we will be better positioned to support the private sector development. The government has unraveled a great agenda for the country’s industrial revolution, an agenda that will be meticulously realized if hinged on the development of iron and steel, and on metal production,” he said, adding that Nigeria should have a solid base in the metal oriented industries as it will enable it climb to be among the world’s top 20 economies.
“Apart from oil, the solid minerals sector commands the most potential for driving the Nigerian economy. Iron ore, manganese, gold, calcium and various other natural resources exist in large commercial quantities, and foreigners and local are interested.”
Speaking on crucial roles the centre has served the country, Madugu said: NMDC was on the forefront in conducting research while searching for components suitable for used in iron and steel production, specifically iron ore itself,” he said, stating that the NMDC was centrally involved in the determination of the quality of the iron ore in Nigeria and how it can be suitably adapted for use in the blast furnace process at Ajaokuta Steel Company, a task he said the Centre fulfilled satisfactorily.
Speaking further on the achievements of the NMDC, Madugu said it played a leading role in the research that ended needless expenditure on importation of iron ore. “When the federal government was spending so much money on the importation of iron ore from Guinea andBrazil, the NMDC was part of bodies that came out with the research results which proved that if the Itakpe iron ore is beneficiated and developed, and if a super concentrate line is built at Itakpe, the ore can be used for direct iron reduction,” he said.
Commenting further on the viability of the Centre in the research and development needs of the country, the Director General said it “assisted the oil and gas industry in solving myriads of problems,” adding that the NMDC is already developing strategies that can lead to the creation of a million jobs in the small and medium scale enterprises through the foundry section kaolin production, beneficiation and production of gold, as well as in the fabrication of equipment.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Musa Mohammed Sada, charged the board to contribute its quota in the quest of the ministry to reposition the minerals and metals sector to play the leading role in the diversification of the Nigerian economy, stating that it is necessary in transformation agenda in the NMDC.
“The governing board should formulate broad policy for the centre in accordance with guidelines issued by the federal government while ensuring compliance with laws which established the centre,” the minister added.
Permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr. DaudaKigbu noted that the NMDC is presently the only metals oriented research and development organization in West African sub region that seeks to add value to solid minerals through beneficiation techniques and the development of appropriate processing technology, stating that a country’s economic strength and technological development can be measured by the amount of iron, steel and metals produced by the country.
The permanent secretary said a key growth index is the important roles played by iron, steel, and the metal consumption by the nation since they are considered as being the main ingredients for serious gross domestic output and job creation.
According to the permanent secretary, the increasing demand for metals and industrial minerals in Nigeria coupled with the vast availability of various naturally occurring raw materials has called for increased investment in research and development of Nigeria’s solid minerals sector.
“The economic exploitation of solid minerals will not only provide a plutonic base for a quick industrial take off but will also contribute in placing Nigeria in the league of the twenty great economies of the world,” adding that the NMDC was currently fulfilling its role of building capacity that will enable it offer comprehensive, excellent and effective research and development.
The Permanent secretary further hinted that the NMDC aims at realizing the full potential of Nigeria’s vast solid mineral resources and the adaptation of metallurgical processes that will enhance both economic and technological growth.