President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday did a virtual launch of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI) at the Council Chambers of the State House Abuja.
The President said improved gold mining operations in the country will generate no fewer than 250,000 jobs and over $500 million annually in royalties and taxes to the Federal Government.
This is even as he disclosed that in six years Nigeria lost $3 billion to illegal miners.
“With the implementation of the PAGDMI scheme which will result in the set-up of accredited gold buying centres across key mining areas, artisanal miners and SMEs engaged in mining will be able to capture the value of their work, he said.
“These operations will help in diversifying our revenue base. The sale of gold by artisanal miners and SMEs at accredited centers will help the government in realizing royalties and taxes from the sale of these assets.
“These developments will also help in improving our foreign reserves by enabling the Central Bank of Nigeria to increase the amount of gold in its reserves.
“These gold assets which will be purchased in Naira, will not only help to bolster our international reserves, it will also provide a hedge against inflation and other economic volatilities associated with foreign currencies that are held in our reserves,” he said.
The Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) paid for and received an international standard but locally sourced 12.5kg gold bar (artisanally-mined in Nigeria) worth N268 million for its reserves.
The CBN presented a Cheque for that amount to PAGMI. The gold now belongs to Nigeria’s External Reserves. With PAGMI, CBN will be able to boost gold reserves with Naira, not dollars.
The Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said Nigeria has moved from talking about diversification to actually diversifying her economy.
“Like you all know for several years and decades, we have been talking about the need to diversify the revenue base of the Nigerian economy and we will say that today this has been actualised in the sense that other than receiving dollar revenue from proceeds of sale of crude oil, we have today received into our reserves through the purchase of this 12.5kg purified gold bar into our reserves, we have today received gold into our reserves.
“Like you all know, gold is valued in the international market in dollars so what does that mean? This gold is valued at dollar sum that will go into our reserves and what does that also mean? That for those who feel that the only way they can analyse Nigeria is to say what is the price of crude, is the price of crude high or is the price of crude low, they will now begin to see that at this time when the price of crude is low, the price of gold is rising, that the Nigerian economy remains strong, remains resilient to withstand the exigenous shocks that we see around today. ”
“We seize this opportunity to assure our friends both locally and internationally to say that the Nigerian government supported by the monetary authorities is doing everything possible to diversify the base of the Nigerian economy and in the coming weeks and months, Nigerians and the world will see more that is going to be done in improving the output from our agricultural sector, from the manufacturing sector, doing everything to make it easy for goods to move from farms to market in Nigeria.
“All this are being done to ensure that the Nigerian economy remains resilient to withstand any shock that may come our ways.”
The launch was witnessed physically by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, governors Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai, Kebbi, Bagudu Atiku, Osun Gboyega Oyetola and Deputy of Zamfara, Mahdi Gusau, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, Governor it Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele and the Executive Secretary of the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF), Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi.
Others join virtually from their various offices.