President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday presided over the virtual launch of the Gold Purchase Programme and the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI) at the State House, Abuja.
Buhari watched as Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor, Godwin Emefiele presented a cheque of N268.6 million to the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, as payment for the procurement of 12.5kg of the LBMA Gold.
Several other Nigerians joined the virtual launching of the initiative with some top government functionaries also in attendance.
Buhari while delivering his speech at the launching said improved gold mining can fetch Nigeria $500m in Royalties and other payments while also creating 250,000 jobs for Nigerians.
‘‘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.
‘‘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,’’ the President said.
Nigeria currently has an untapped gold deposit of 200m, with partners expected both locally and internationally to drive the sector, as a substitute for the fast dwindling oil sector.
Buhari said the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a huge blow on Nigeria’s income from oil.
‘‘It has also led to a 40 percent drop in crude oil prices. In Nigeria, the drop in crude oil prices has had a significant impact on government revenue, as well as on our foreign exchange earnings.
‘‘In responding to this challenge, it is therefore paramount that we strengthen our efforts at implementing policies and programs that will enable greater diversification of the Nigerian economy.
‘‘Enabling investment in the Solid Mineral sector, is a key part of the government’s economic diversification program.
‘‘Given our current estimated gold reserves of over 200m ounces, most of which have not been exploited, developing sustainable programmes that will catalyse increased investment in the extraction and refining of gold sourced from mines in Nigeria, is indeed vital,’’ he said.
The Presidential Artinasal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI) is being headed by Prof. Gambari.