Expert interview with Mr Oyetola Oshobi, a Senior Advocate in Nigeria and a partner in Babalakin & Co Legal Practitioners, bronze sponsors at this year’s Nigeria Mining Week in Abuja.

Let’s start with some background on your company and your current business interests in Africa, and in Nigeria in particular. 

Babalakin & Co is a leading commercial law firm in Nigeria. We have over 50 lawyers operating out of offices in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. Since inception over 30 years ago, our firm has been involved in major commercial transactions both for the Federal and State Governments and the private sector. Being a full service law firm we are interested in all manner of business as we provide the full spectrum of legal services. 

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Is B&C involved in any specific mining projects in Nigeria and the region that you are particularly excited about at the moment? 

Yes, we are currently involved in two gold mining projects in Nigeria. Due to the confidentiality requirements attached to our profession, I cannot give you details of the transactions. But, we have been acting as transaction counsel and providing legal advice and guidance to our clients in these two transactions. 

One of our clients has multiple mining assets all over the country but primarily in the North while our second client has mining assets in the West. We are also currently advising a state government on how to leverage on its mineral resources and use mining as a way to increase its internally generated revenue. 

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How excited are you about the opportunities in Nigeria’s mining sector? 

I am very excited about the opportunities in Nigeria’s mining sector. I believe that mining is the easiest and quickest way to diversify Nigeria’s economy from its over-dependence on oil and gas revenues. Currently, the health of Nigeria’s economy is directly proportional to the health of petroleum prices. This has led to Nigeria suffering incessant economic shocks due to dwindling oil prices without any mode of absorbing it. Everyone agrees that it is imperative for Nigeria to diversify its economy. 

Take the example of Mauritius. At independence, their economy was controlled by sugar, which formed 90% of their gross domestic product (GDP). But, they took concerted efforts to diversify their economy by investing in manufacturing, tourism and finance, particularly banking and business outsourcing to the point that sugar now only forms about 3% of their GDP. In addition, Mauritius is now considered one of the richest countries in Africa. 

Nigeria has a wealth of mineral resources all over the country. If developed, not only will it boost our economy, providing a safeguard from the vulnerability caused by the current dependence on oil but also further benefits to the economy through productive linkages with other sectors created through purchase of domestically supplied inputs, labour or local skills and knowledge transfer. Specifically, developing mining projects would significantly reduce unemployment in the country and allow States to become financially independent of the Federal Government. 

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Why did you decide to partner with Nigeria Mining Week? 

We are stakeholders in the industry and we have a lot of passion and zeal for the industry. We believe in the industry’s potential and are committed to the development of the industry. We believe that events such as the Nigeria Mining Week could go a long way in the development of the industry by bringing stakeholders together to discuss the way forward. 

What will be B&C’s message at Nigeria Mining Week in October? 

Our message is that developing the mining industry is of utmost importance and the Federal Government should prioritize the development of that sector. The Federal Government should do everything possible to facilitate and more actively encourage private sector led development of the mining sector. 

What are you most looking forward to in Abuja next week? 

I am looking forward to the various insightful discussions and networking sessions throughout the three days of the conference. I am also particularly looking forward to the investment and finance masterclass as investment is key to developing the mining sector. In addition to these, I am looking forward to the mining week not being just another talk shop but a launching pad for stakeholders in the industry to take definite and specific actions that would lead to immediate realization of short-term goals and a clear path to attaining the medium and long terms goals of the industry.

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