Uche Ogah, minister of state for mines and steel development, has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of failing to support the development of the mines and solid minerals sector like the agricultural industry which has in recent times, received financial backing from the apex bank.
Ogah made the allegation during a two-day public hearing set up by the senate committee on solid minerals, mines, steel development and metallurgy.
Business A.M gathered that the public hearing was organised to procure the views of stakeholders on the preparations of four bills and an investigative motion for the solid minerals sector.
“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,” the minister said.
The minister pointed out that the mines and steel ministry has the potential to change the landscape of the country’s revenue but lamented that it has not enjoyed any significant exploitation and has been left untapped. He further enjoined the ministry of finance to speed up the export policy on solid minerals, noting that it is the only way operators can be brought into the sector.
On a positive note, he said the federal government has established processing plants for the solid minerals sector in all the six geopolitical zones which are currently under construction.
“We are going to have processing plants for gold, bauxite, among others, to establish the downstream sector of the mines and steel development and to ensure that there is processing in the sector,” he noted.
Ogah also urged the general public to get involved in checking the activities of intruders in the mining sub-sector, to help curb illegal mining, which has been a challenge facing mining activities in the country.
On his part, Tanko Al Makura, chairman of the committee, said the bills were designed to accelerate the diversification of the economy from a mono-economy of oil to solid minerals.
Al Makura assured that the bills, when passed, would make the sector more attractive for investors given the abundance of solid minerals resources in all parts of the country. He added that the establishment of the Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation (NMDC) would help address the issue of revenue required for infrastructure development, and also assist in creating employment and ultimately reduce poverty.
The bills discussed by the committee included the Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation (NMDC) Establishment Bill 2021; Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Establishment Bill 2021; Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021.Other areas of discussion were the Explosive Act 1964 Repeal Re-enactment Bill 2021, and the urgent need to investigate the $9 billion annual loss due to illegal mining and gold smuggling.