Foreigners working in Nigeria’s solid minerals industry, according to Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule, are exploiting the country’s people.
Sule stated this at a public policy dialogue on Nigeria’s minerals and mining legislation, organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, on Monday.
He called for institutional reforms to turn around the fortunes of the sector for the benefit of Nigerians.
He said, “One community in Nasarawa got some kind of compensation of a very small amount of N700m. They were so excited but this was nothing compared to the time when lithium was running roughly about $76,000 per metric ton.
“If we are serious about the future of the economic situation of Nigeria, we must reform what we call the solid mineral sector and if we must reform, we must come up with policies and reform them to benefit Nigerians. If we don’t do that, we will just be joking.”
The Chairman, House Committee on Solid Minerals, Jonathan Gaza said the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act (Amendment) Bill being considered proposes five per cent of the total revenue of all minerals mined to the host communities.
He said the bill, when passed, will allow for the establishment of a Mines Inspection and Environmental Agency to provide improved deeper oversight of mining activities and bridge the gap between the Federal and State Governments to empower the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee for effective and joint oversight.
“The establishment bill for a Solid Minerals Development Company allocates 75 per cent ownership to the private sector and 25 per cent to the federation of Nigeria. Community Development and the Environment are really prioritised in the bill. The Petroleum Industry Act sets aside 3 per cent of their annual operational expenditure to host communities.
“In the bill, we have set aside 5 per cent of the revenue of all minerals mined to the host communities, and this is due to informality of the sector. We believe that it can be reviewed and improved through this programme,” he said.
Also speaking, the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu said the bill, if passed, will mark a turning point for the nation’s mineral wealth, stressing that the nation’s vast mineral resources have remained largely untapped and undeservedly ignored by reliance on oil.
Kalu noted that the challenges of insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of skilled manpower have continued to work against the development of the solid mineral sector, adding that the challenges would be addressed by the proposed amendment bill.
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“Despite boasting over 40 commercially viable minerals, the mining sector contributes a mere 0.3 per cent to our Gross Domestic Product. Our duty call today is to turn the tide.
“There are indications of a renewed vigour in our mining industry, fueled by a collective will to diversify our economy, create jobs, and unlock the immense potential that lies beneath our soil.
“The 2016-2025 Mining Industry Development Roadmap, aiming to increase the sector’s GDP contribution to 3 per cent by 2025, is already showing progress. Projects like the Segilola Gold Project in Osun State governed by a private-sector-led lens are injecting millions of dollars into our economy and attracting much-needed investment,” he said.
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