Dr. Uche Ogah, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, has lamented the Central Bank of Nigeria’s lack of assistance for the development of the mines and the solid mineral sector.
At a two-day public hearing organized by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development, and Metallurgy, the minister expressed his views, according to The Guardian.
What was the reason for the public hearing?
The purpose of the public hearing was to get feedback from stakeholders on the drafts of four laws as well as an investigative motion for the solid minerals sector.
The bills are the Establishment Bill 2021 for the Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation and the Establishment Bill 2021 for the Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission.
The Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021, the Explosive Act 1964 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021, and the urgent necessity to investigate the annual loss of $9 billion due to illegal gold mining and smuggling are the others.
What the minister said
The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogah, while making his presentation said: “It is unfortunate that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did not believe in us.
“If they believe in us, if they support us the way they are supporting agriculture, we will do wonders for this country.
“This is one ministry that is untapped, that is unknown but that can change the landscape of our revenue.”
Ogah, who called for support in all areas for the development of the sector, said there was a need to support research for the growth of the sector.
“Equally, we need to ask the Ministry of Finance to speed up the export policy on solid minerals because that is the only way to have operators into the sector.”
Ogah urged citizens to be involved in checking the activities of intruders in the mining sub-sector.
The legislation, according to the minister, will enhance the sector if they are passed.
He praised the Senate and President Muhammadu Buhari for enlisting the ministry’s help in advancing the sector’s growth.
Sen. Tanko Al Makura (APC-Nasarawa), the committee’s chairman, had stated that the proposals were intended to speed up the transition of the economy from a mono-economy of oil to one based on solid minerals.
Given the wealth of solid minerals resources in all sections of the country, he said the laws, if passed, will make the sector more appealing to investors.
He said that the country’s enormous solid mineral resources were mostly unexplored and that the NMDC would assist address the issue of funding needed for infrastructure development.
He added that it would also help to create jobs and, as a result, eliminate poverty.