The Chairman of the Mining Implementation and Strategy Team (MIST), Professor Gbenga Okunlola, has said that the mining sector has raised the nation’s revenue profile from N600 million to N3 billion since the approval of the mining roadmap 18 months ago.
Speaking in Jos, the Plateau State capital, at a sensitisation workshop on the mining roadmap with stakeholders, Professor Okunlola said the roadmap is set out to look at how to increase the current Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and to plan and generate employment opportunities.
He pointed out that Nigeria has been a mining country and that Jos, Enugu and Port Harcourt were practically built from mining until 1975 when mining declined because of the indigenization policy which saw the indigenes taking over the sector from the whites without being ready.
“The Federal Executive Council has approved the roadmap for mining in the country; that is what it aims to achieve in six months to two years, between two years and five years and from five years to 10 years,” he said.
He noted that the roadmap would increase the current Gross Domestic Product (GDP) saying, “even the target for this year has been surpassed since July.”
In his remarks, the President of Miners Association of Nigeria, Sani Shehu, said it is imperative to carry the host communities along in an effort to revamp the mining sector, noting that the communities could turn hostile if they are not carried along.
With some pragmatic steps taken so far by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the federal government has demonstrated its commitment to the diversification of the nation’s economy with mining industry as one of its areas of focus. Armed with a roadmap which targets to actualise shared mining prosperity for all stakeholders – a goal the ministry plans to pursue through the development of the sector, ensuring stronger regulatory framework, enabling environment, among others. Determined to lead the sector to a path of recovery, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi recently embarked on a nationwide tour of some mining sites in the country. The tour, which was preceded by a town hall meeting of the stakeholders in the sector, attracted not just top government officials, but also operators and other stakeholders.
Speaking at the town hall meeting in Lagos, recently, the minister hinted that the tour was to enable his office get a better understanding beyond the routine office paper work by interacting with the stakeholders as well as institutions involved in mining in the country. According to him, the town hall meeting was to allow for interaction between the federal and state governments as well as operators in the mining and steel industry.
Stressing the need for the synergy between the federal government, state government and operators, Fayemi said that the roadmap for solid mineral development which was signed by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) would be further strengthened by the partnership between host communities, states and the federal coordinating authorities.
A roadmap for the sector was approved by the Federal Executive Council in September 2016. The highlight of that roadmap, he recalled, was to strengthen the partnership between the host communities where these mineral resources are endowed, the state authorities as well as ourselves in the federal government.
While issues peculiar to each state were brought to the front burner at the meeting, the Lagos stakeholders meeting was dominated by issues bothering on sand mining, Ogun on quarrying-related issues, kaduna on talc and gold among others. Fielding questions from operators and stakeholders, a group of surface miners in Lagos, who claimed to have been out of business for over a year because their business was stopped by Lagos State despite having their Federal CADASTRE, accused Lagos State of imposing double taxation on them. They called for the federal government’s intervention, insisting that the N500,000 operational consent, being demanded, amounts to double taxation. They said that the denial of access to their means of livelihood has brought untold hardship on their families.
According to one of the stakeholders, Prince Olusola Idris, who spoke to THISDAY, “We understand mining to be on the exclusive list, which vests the federal government the power to issue mining licences. And we have obtained licence for over a year now, but Lagos State would not allow us to work. They issued us stop work order and demanded that we pay the sum of N500,000 for the state’s operational consent.
“This, we consider as double taxation, which is contrary to the law of the land. What we understand from the law is that we can only pay haulage to the state government while we pay royalty to the federal government. The operational fee is not only outrageous; it is renewable fee every year. We have tried to meet with the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources without any headway. They have persistently refused to meet with us or address our concerns. They have thrown us back into the labour market.”
However, the minister has reinstated federal government’s belief in partnership and collaboration with the state in achieving its goals.