By Hillary Asemota
The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammed Haruna, has expressed optimism that collaboration between NASENI and the National Metallurgical Development Centre (NMDC) will fast-track Nigeria’s economic diversification.
Speaking at the kick off of the collaboration in Jos, Plateau State over the week end, between the NASENI boss and the Director General/Chief Executive of NMDC Prof. Linus O. Asuquo, Haruna, stressed that Nigeria’s economic diversification efforts would not give the nation the desired socio-economic growth or job creation if there is no synergy between the Centre and the agency.
He added that effective diversification will tackle social vices associated with unemployment if the strategies do not take into accounts the conversion of the natural resources and minerals into finished products thereby creating the windows for the manufacturing sector to add values to the economy.
According to him, the collaboration is geared towards exploring value addition in the mineral and metals subsector through Research and Development (R&D’s) of abundant local raw materials found in the country’s soil.
Recall that NMDC is the Federal Government Centre with the mandate and responsibility to undertake, through laboratory research and tests, mineralogical appraisal, examination and evaluation of minerals deposits and endowments in the country and to carry out samples for the purpose of ascertaining the minerals spaces contained in Nigeria soil.
Other functions of the NMDC include carrying out applied research and also to develop both conventional and refractory products, using mineral raw materials, and to improve the performance of the processes used in metallurgical and allied industries through the applications of scientific knowledge to the solutions of problems related to steel production, fabrication and utilization.
Activities of the Centre was targeted by government to be the feeders of raw materials to the yet to take off Ajaokuta Steel complex, Itakpe Steel rolling complex and other iron smelter industrial complexes which their lack of full take off had slowed down the industrial development of the country.
But 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 in order for the Centre to add values to the mineral and metals subsector is being boosted with the agreement.
The DG of the Centre, in a remark, 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 our country, Nigeria.”
In the emerging collaboration, Haruna said that both organizations would commit themselves to the economic diversification agenda of the federal government by ensuring that iron and steel, minerals and metals subsector of the economy are explored to the benefits of the citizens thereby redirecting people’s minds from oil.
NASENI, will fabricate the machines and all needed capital goods and equipment by NMDC while the centre on its part will continue to carry out the required research and development into discovery of more of the Nigeria potential mineral and metals deposits in the country which are the very critical foundational possessions which Nigeria must have before dreaming of our own peculiar type of industrialization or industrial economy.
“We cannot industrialise our economy without paying attention to the conversion of the nation’s minerals both solid and soft into viable uses.
Also, our diversification efforts will not be successful without fabricating the needed tools, machinery, capital goods and equipment to process iron, steels or other minerals deposits”, said Prof Haruna.
He also disclosed that NASENI had no alternative than to collaborate with NMDC because doing so amounted to fulfilling the mandate and vision of NASENI as the only purpose-built agency of the Federal government established to provide engineering infrastructure, creation of capital goods, machines and equipment aimed at industrializing the country.