Nigeria was so focused with oil and gas revenues that mineral resources were largely ignored for years, but now the country is working hard to overcome stereotypes about doing business there, and to implement a wide range of reforms aimed at promoting mining.
That was the essence of the talk by Dr. Leslye Obiora at the Arizona Geological Society dinner meeting last night in Tucson [right]. Leslye is a professor of law at the Univ. of Arizona and former Minister of Mining and Steel Development for Nigeria. During her time as Minister, she pushed long-stalled legislation through the national legislature that institutionalized mining reforms.
I got to know Leslye when she was appointed Minister by the president of Nigeria a few years ago. Her appointment was a surprise to most observers because she had worked in law and human rights but had no direct experience in mining. Before she left Tucson to take up her new duties, we talked about mining and mineral resources and continued email dialogues while she served in that role.
It was gratifying to hear her describe Nigeria's maturity as a democracy. Despite a variety of economic and religious challenges, Leslye noted that the civil government is carrying out its duties without interference from the military.