The Minister Of State, Mines And Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, on Tuesday in Nasarawa State, revealed that “states and local governments in Nigeria can improve their financial situations by tapping into the enormous resources available in the mining sector.”
He made this known when he paid a courtesy call on the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, at the Government House in Lafia.
He was in Nasarawa State on a working visit and for a meeting with stakeholders in the sector.
While briefing the governor and his cabinet, Ogah said there were policies on ground in the mining sector that states and local governments could take advantage of to improve their financial situations.
Particularly, he mentioned the 13 percent derivation policy, which he says should be vigorously pursued by the states because there is a huge opportunity to earn a lot of money through it, if they pay attention to the sector.
The minister said Nigeria was the only country where minerals were taken away without beneficiation and pre-shipment inspection.
This he said made it difficult for states and local governments to benefit from the over 55 minerals in the country.
He also said that states and local governments were loosing revenues because “they are not aware of what was happening in the mining sector in their states and many have not bothered to put structures in place to; document their minerals, know those operating in the industry in their states, ensure that those mining in their states are legally doing so and minerals being taken away were properly documented.”
He also emphasised on the need to “mobilize and educate communities where there are minerals, to ensure they are not being taken advantage of by illegal operators and some foreigners who want to divide them in order to loot the mineral deposits in their community”
He therefore maintained that there were opportunities for states to improve their revenue by making sure that every dot of mineral being taking away from their land is appropriately captured so that they will earn what is due to them. This he said is in addition to setting up SPVs they could use for direct participation and to earn higher income.
The minister also told the governor of a policy that is being put in place to make it mandatory for minerals mined in the country to be beneficiated in-country. This he said will ” be for value addition, job creation, proper documentation and higher revenue mobilization”
The governor in his response said he was happy to receive the minister on behalf of the people of the state and his cabinet.
He said he was also happy that the minister had said all that was needed to be done, especially about the needed synergy that was required between local governments, states and the ministry of mines and steel development at the federal level.
He also said that Ogah’s visit was “a great achievement for Nasarawa State, because few days earlier the mineral sector was discussed at the National Economic Council (NEC) and our state was eagerly waiting to follow up on the matter since it is a mineral rich state that could benefit from the new policies being put in place.”
The governor also pointed out “the need to ensure that investors come with their business plan, which should include their roadmap for reclamation, employment for the local people and benefits for host communities”. This he said was necessary “to avoid the mistakes that were made in the oil producing areas.”
The governor pleaded with the minister to consider indigenes of his state when issuing mining licenses and promised to engage communities in mineral producing areas to ensure they are united.
The minister’s meeting with stakeholders in the state, was focused on tenure of licences, grants, environment, value addition, equipment leasing, community engagement and the need for Nigerians in the industry to act with patriotic zeal towards their country and desist from conniving with foreigners in looting and destroying their nation.
Ogah ended his working visit to Nasarawa State with a tour of Delta Processors Limited, a beneficiation plant that could help improve minerals value addition but has been abandoned over the years.
He was optimistic that it would be brought back to operation having identified key issues that led to its abandonment.
The minister and his team returned to Abuja with a promise to work out a detailed plan on the outcomes of the working visit.
L-R: Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, and Minister of State for Mines and Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, during the minister’s visit to the state… on Tuesday.
Photo: Great Imo Jonathan