The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has expressed the need for strong safeguards against environmental degradation and concern for the welfare of host communities in the development of the mines and minerals sector.
Malam Bello made this call today, September 14, 2017, when he declared open the Executive Session of the maiden National Council on Mines and Mineral Resources Development in Nigeria, holding in Abuja.
His words, “No matter how much benefits we get eventually from the exploitation of minerals as long as we do that at the danger of the degradation of the environment and expense of the welfare of the host communities, all these benefits will be of no use in the end.”
The FCT Minister described the solid minerals sector as the foundation for the rapid economic progress recorded in the early years of Nigeria before the discovery of oil in 1956.
He recalled “about 100 years ago Nigeria was a highly recognized centre of mining activities. There were active mining of Tin in Jos, Gold in Bida and Coal in Enugu.” He expressed hope in the return to the glorious days when mines and mineral were the major drivers of the national economy citing the recent discovery of the rich deposit of Nickel in Kaduna State.
Bello, therefore, anticipated a greater future for Nigeria given the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration towards the diversification of the economy and the concerted efforts of the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development towards harnessing the potentials of the sector.
He described the establishment of a National Council on Mining development as a dynamic institutional framework that would foster effective partnership between the Federal and State Governments as well as the host communities for a brighter future for the industry.
In his address at the occasion, the Minister of Solid Mineral Development Dr. Kayode Fayemi revealed that the essence of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development (NCMMRD) is the need to improve on the engagement of stakeholders at the sub-national level, particularly the state governments and communities in order to achieve a more beneficial participation of critical stakeholder groups in the mining sector.
The Minister also announced that the Ministry has effectively resolved the protracted litigation surrounding the ownership of Ajaokuta and NIOMCO leading to the signing of a “Modified Concession Agreement” between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Global Infrastructure Nigeria Ltd.
The agreement, he indicated, was executed on behalf of the Federal Government by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and has consequently freed both NIOMCO and Ajaokuta Steel Company from eight years of dormancy. As a result, the ownership of Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd has reverted to the Federal Government of Nigeria. Similarly the operationalization of the Steel Company will provide needed inputs to support the infrastructure requirements of the Country and save Nigeria the $3.3 billion spent annually on the importation of steel products.
Dr. Fayemi revealed that the sector has already achieved a 300 percent increase in revenue between 2015 and 2016, stating that as at July this year it had surpassed the entire revenue of N2 billion generated for the whole of 2016.
The Ministry, he disclosed, has secured approval to access N30 billion from the Natural Resources Intervention Fund for promotion of the exploration of new minerals and to strengthen the regulatory capacity of his Ministry.
His words “our goal is to build a sector that is competitive and supportive of our overall job creation and wealth generation aspirations for Nigerians.”