A professor of Metallurgical and Minerals Engineering at the Federal University of Technology Akure FUTA, John Ade Ajayi ,has lamented that Nigeria has been unable to utilize its abundant mineral resources to create sustainable wealth and drive real development that impact the people. Ade Ajayi made the submission while delivering the 146th Inaugural lecture of the Institution with the title: “Rich Nation, Poor People! The king of Metals as Paradigm: Quo Vadis Nigeria?” on the 10th of January 2023.
He said Nigeria is blessed with a lot of non-ferrous minerals including copper ores capable of contributing immensely to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP of the country. He however lamented that in spite of the abundant mineral resources there is hardly any serious actual mining capable of making Nigeria an industrialized nation. According to him,” There is no single functional and sustainable mine, mill or metal extraction plant in Nigeria. The National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, Mine and Mill are not really operational for now. The only tin smelting plant in Nigeria, Makeri Smelting Company, Jos has gone into the dustbin of history. What is prevalent is artisanal mining and ‘processing’ and quarrying. “He described the operations of artisanal miners as, “Unscientific, untechnical, uneconomical, unsafe, unhealthy and environmentally unfriendly.”
Professor Ade Ajayi said there was an urgent need for government to lead the drive to chart a new direction for sustainable mineral resources development that will engender economic prosperity in Nigeria through correct policies. He said the economic development of any nation depends considerably on its level of industrial development and this in turn depends invariably on the level of mineral exploration and manufacturing activities in the national economy. He said concerted effort must thus be taken to revive industries and set factories working through minerals and metals value chain in Nigeria to improve the quality of life of its people.
He said the importance of iron and steel production in the national economy like Nigeria cannot be overemphasized as it is presently recognized that a nation that controls iron and steel controls the world. To this end he recommended that a Council for the Nigerian Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (CNIMM) be put in place in accordance with international best practices to see to the sustainable production of non-ferrous metals required for the production of ferro-alloys and different types of alloys.
Ade Ajayi , Nigeria’s first professor of metallurgical and minerals engineering , said in order to be able to sustainably produce mineral and metal products for the use of the society, the Nigerian mining, minerals and metals (3M) industries should have viable linkages with academic institutions and research institutes. He said the 3M industries are to produce goods and services for the society thereby generating employment, creating wealth and engendering national economic development. The Don called for a clearly convergent point between inventors and investments in Nigeria such as science and technology parks for startups.
He recommended that FUTA as the best university of technology in Nigeria should be declared as a centre of excellence in Mining engineering, mineral processing technology and extractive metallurgical engineering. According to him, there is the need to transform the Nigerian universities from the present intellectual amnesia to intellectual revolution.
Ade Ajayi advised that competence enhancement and training should become the hallmark of those driving the country’s policies saying, “The funds used for junketing and seeking international investors can be used for training and research. For national interest, we must reorder our priorities.”
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Adenike Oladiji, in her address said Professor Ade Ajayi has been a consistent productive scholar, a metallurgical engineering expert and an educational manager per excellence. She said Professor Ajayi had contributed significantly to knowledge in his chosen area of Metallurgical and minerals engineering.