The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, lamented that resources that should be used to tackle unemployment in the country were buried in the ground in different parts of the country.
Osinbajo said unless the country gets the management of its solid mineral resources right, it would continue living in the terrible paradox of suffering in the midst of plenty.
The Vice President stated that during the maiden edition of the strategic engagement on sustainable mining with the theme, “Resurrecting Our Buried Prosperity”.
According to him, “So buried in the ground in various parts of Nigeria are riches that could ensure that no Nigerian is unemployed, underfed, or neglected.
“And this is not mere speculation because, before the discovery of oil, Nigeria developed its infrastructure, roads, rail, dams, provided free education in the western region for example, from the proceeds of minerals, agriculture and taxes.
“But with the discovery of oil, these incredible riches have remained buried in the ground for decades. In many parts of the country, you find illegal miners with poor equipment essentially scraping the surface of these deposits.
“Some better-equipped operators are able to do more, but they largely exploit cheap labour, and pay next to nothing in taxes or royalties, and cause environmental damage that is never remedied.
“It is clear that unless we get the management of our solid mineral resources right, we would continue living in the terrible paradox of suffering in the midst of plenty. The problems are numerous but solvable.
“The principal issue is that of the challenges of implementing the regulatory framework. While the Ministry of Mines and Steel has the legislative mandate to regulate mining in the country, many states and local governments have embarked on the imposition of their own rules and regulations on miners in their states, including issuance of Registration Permits, Community Development Agreements (CDA) and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on miners.
“Some state governments, in a bid to shore up their revenues, impose illegal fees, taxes, and levies on foreign and local licensed mining companies and operators.”
Osinbajo said the Federal Government required the cooperation of states, council areas and mining communities, for the mining sector to become adequately beneficial to Nigeria.
He also noted that Nigeria must put an end to the culture of exporting its raw materials, start maximising the advantages of refining raw products and exporting products with value added as this has more to offer in terms of job creation and others.
He submitted that the Federal Government would not be able to effectively regulate mining activities in the country without the active participation of the state and local council structures, explaining further that the centre must also ensure that appropriate incentives go back to the sources.
He emphasized the need for the Federal Government to ensure that mining communities receive adequate attention, both for residents and for the environment around the communities.
He said, “Mining revenues go to the Federation Account and is shared between the Federal Government, states and local governments. States where resources come from get 13% derivation in addition to their share.
“The Federal Government cannot effectively regulate mining without actively, and deliberately working with states, local governments and mineral-producing communities.
“The Federal Government, states and local government have to jointly develop working arrangements to ensure that mining is attractive to investors, profitable for states and local governments, not just from proceeds but also from personal income tax paid to states by mine workers and staff of mining companies.
“The communities where mines are located must also have some direct benefits aside from jobs for their residents. We must find a formula for compensating the communities for environmental degradation and erosion.
“There must also be a framework for ensuring that environmental degradation is remedied.
“We must discourage the export of raw minerals. Refining, processing, or beneficiation is the only real way to maximize our mineral wealth and create good-paying jobs and opportunities for our people.”
He noted that Nigeria was already globally a leading producer of tin, columbite and coal as of 1940.
He noted that potential coal reserves in the country are currently estimated to be as high as 3billion tonnes, adding that “much of our coal is high-grade clean and bituminous with a low sulphur and ash content.
“Even farther back in 1913, gold in commercial quantities had already been found in parts of Northern Nigeria and what is now Osun State. Bitumen was discovered as far back as 1900 mostly in the South-West Zone, the bitumen belt covering what are now Ondo, Ogun, Lagos, and Edo states and today with deposits in excess of 42billion tons we have the second-largest bitumen deposit in the world and almost twice our oil reserves.
“How about iron ore? We have the 12th largest iron ore deposit in the world, more than three billion tons. Besides, the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) confirms that Nigeria has over 44 mineral deposits in commercial quantities in over 500 locations across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. These minerals range from industrial and energy minerals, such as iron ore and coal, to gemstones, including sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.”
He, however, regretted that with the discovery of oil, these incredible riches have remained buried in the ground for decades.
“In many parts of the country, you find illegal miners with poor equipment essentially scraping the surface of these deposits. Some better-equipped operators are able to do more, but they largely exploit cheap labour, and pay next to nothing in taxes or royalties, and cause environmental damage that is never remedied.”
The Vice President also regretted frequent arrests and harassment of licensed miners and their workers, and closures of mining sites as a result of taxes enforcement by states only disincentive prospective investors in the sector and invariably jeopardize the efforts of the government to deepen the mining industry in Nigeria.
“There is no way this will ever benefit the majority of our people. Then there are the huge security concerns that always develop in the struggle for control of mineral resources in poorly regulated, unregulated, or ungoverned spaces. Almost invariably, these situations lead to criminal activities and particularly, the proliferation of weapons and armed groups. This is true historically and more evident now.
“On the African continent, we have ample examples of how resource extraction can trigger an increase in criminality. Here in Nigeria, armed banditry hiring and equipping of armed groups by illegal but powerful mining concerns in many resources-rich areas is clearly fuelled by the chaotic regulatory environment.
“It is for these reasons that this strategic engagement with the leadership of the 774 local governments is critical. It is apt and timely, especially as the Federal government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel seeks to fully implement its robust and wide-ranging remit in policy and legislation.
“This engagement will certainly help in explaining the regulatory framework to the governments at the community level where most of the mining activities take place. It will enable the ministry and other stakeholders to get direct feedback from the local government authorities and those who have to deal with these issues daily.
“But where are we today? In 2016, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in collaboration with industry stakeholders formulated the Roadmap for the Growth and Development of the Nigerian Mining Sector Industry. The road map addresses some of the tensions between the Federal Government and sub-national entities in relation to mining.
“The roadmap which identifies partnership with mining communities as one of the ‘critical levers of success’ states that ‘success in Nigerian mining requires partnership across multiple communities, stakeholders and institutions’ and also stresses that ‘the role of state governments as both co-investors and sector champions is critical’.”
It further asserts that “a sustainable growth model” for the sector can be found “only through government innovations and partner action e.g. community engagement mechanisms, shared investment and co-creation of opportunities.
“Section 19 of the Nigerian Mines and Minerals Act establishes the Minerals Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO). In each state which is composed of representatives of the Federal, State, and Local Governments and is designed to serve as a platform for fostering synergy in mining operations across all tiers of government.
“Consequently, the Act accords communities of the status of co-investors in the development of mineral assets. The Minerals Resources and Environmental Management Committees are important in bringing order, fairness, inclusion, and equity to mining and its value chains.
“Mr. President has also mandated the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) to prioritize the orderly and efficient development of seven strategic minerals in the Mining Roadmap namely Coal, Bitumen, Limestone, Iron Ore, Barites, Gold, and Lead/Zinc ore to support local industries and for export of processed mineral products”, he explained.
He suggested that the ministry should lead the efforts for improved communication and information sharing among the tiers of government especially on the provisions of the Minerals & Mining Act, 2007 and its ancillary regulations of 2011.
In his remarks, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, stated that the ministry was building two gold refineries in the country to increase the value of gold for the benefit of stakeholders.
Adegbite added that gold miners would be linked to formal markets through licensed precious metal buying centres.
He explained: “Through the ongoing Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI), we are organising, formalising, and equipping artisanal and small gold miners in Kaduna, Kebbi, Osun, Niger, Ebonyi, Sokoto, Gombe, and Ekiti.
“Miners of gold and other metals would be linked to formal markets through licensed precious metals buying centres. One of such initiatives was the recently launched Dukia-Heritage Bank buying centre.
“Two gold refineries, Kian Smith and Dukia Gold and Precious Metals Refining Company Limited, are currently being built to increase the value of gold in the country for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
N1.8bn Discovery: Recall Buratai For Investigation, PDP Tasks Buhari
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) recently recovered N1.8billion worth of property owned by a military contractor in Abuja.
The opposition party, in a statement by its National Organising Secretary, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, yesterday, demanded the recall and investigation of Buratai.
PDP said its demand was predicated on the alleged missing $1billion meant to purchase arms to fight terrorism.
It added that corruption under President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC-led administration has led to the upsurge in unhindered terrorism attacks, mass killing of citizens, and loss of many of our gallant fighters.
The statement partly read, “It is therefore of serious interest to Nigerians when reports that the ICPC discovered the sum of N1.8billion in various currencies, expensive cars, and jewellery secreted in a property in Abuja allegedly linked to the former COAS broke out.
“There are already apprehensions that the discovered money is part of the security fund that was criminally diverted. This is especially against the backdrop of the frenzy and spirited efforts by certain quarters linked to the APC to suppress investigation and free flow of information, politicise the matter and sweep it under the carpet.
“Nigerians will recall that our Party has on several occasions alerted that the looting of our treasury is officially sanctioned and enabled by the APC administration with its refusal to prosecute those who were alleged and found to have been involved in massive corruption.
“It would also be recalled that the PDP drew attention to plans of the APC to create a slush fund account from monies fraudulently drawn from the national treasury to finance their plot to rig the 2023 general election.”
According to the PDP, the APC test runs their 2023 rigging plot in the Ekiti State governorship election with massive use of money to prosecute a vote-buying scheme.
The opposition party insisted that the reports of alleged massive looting under Buhari’s watch further confirm the APC administration as a haven for treasury looters.
“Moreover, the recently exposed looting of N80billion by the suspended Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, which investigation has now gone cold is suspected to have been engineered by the cabal at the very high level of the APC administration,” it added.
The PDP maintained that Buratai should return to the country and be made to face investigation.
According to the party, this is important because any allegation bordering on the looting of funds meant for the fight against terrorism is of grave national concern and consequence.
PDP requested that Buratai be thoroughly investigated and if found wanting must be made to face the full weight of the law.
King Jaja, Alapu-In-Council Receive Rivers PDP Guber Candidate In Opobo …Say Fubara’s Emergence Represents Riverine Communities’ Yearnings
While receiving the candidate, King Jaja said Fubara’s emergence represents the long yearnings of the riverine communities to produce the governor of the state since creation, and prayed that God perfects his victory at the elections.
The Amanyanabo noted that the kingdom would not take the opportunity of his emergence for granted as he expressed the undying gratitude of his kingdom to Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who supported the emergence of their son as the candidate of the ruling party.
He urged his people to leave no stone unturned in supporting Fubara to victory in 2023.
Speaking earlier, the PDP flag bearer, Sir Siminialayi Fubara,had told the Amanyanabo and the Council of Chiefs that his visit was to intimate them of his emergence as the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in the 2023 elections, and to seek their blessings as their son.
He said he considered it proper to do this before party campaigns commence, especially in seeking their prayers and blessings.
Fubara noted that his victory at the primary was not by his effort but grace of God at work, and enjoined the kingdom to join him in applauding Governor Nyesom Wike for supporting his emergence.
He further commended the governor for his developmental strides in Opobo and across the state.
The standard bearer visited the Amanyanabo and Alapu-In-Council along with party stalwarts and elders of Opobo/Nkoro extraction.
Insecurity: Northern Group Backs Matawalle On Self-Defence Order
This, the group, while rising from an emergency meeting held in Kaduna, yesterday, said was because the people of the North-West part of the country had suffered so much from banditry activities over the years.
They, therefore, noted that any lawful measure taken by the state to stop the rampaging terrorists that had consistently invaded the state, was in order.
Consequently, a statement released by the Executive Chairman of the group, Alhaji Zubairu Mustafa, also urged governors from the North-West to emulate the Zamfara State’s helmsman by issuing similar directives to their citizens.
The North-West comprises Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto and Zamfara states.
The group also knocked the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, and other elites for hastily rebuking and condemning the governor’s order, adding that they were just being economical with the truth over the spate of insecurity in Zamfara State and other parts of the country.
According to them, the insecurity has festered across the country because there was no serious strategy in place by security agencies to end the challenge.
They added that with Matawalle’s order, the insecurity in his state would cease because if citizens were armed, bandits or terrorists or other criminal elements, would rethink before striking.
The statement read in part, “The Northern Elements Group, known as AREWA Development Forum for Peace and Justice, has risen from an urgent meeting of general concern in Kaduna with the resolution to support the idea of Zamfara State Governor, Bello Mohammed Mutawall, on giving permission to citizens to acquire and use weapons for protection against invading bandits in their communities.
“The group pleads with the state governors in the North-West region to set up machinery and measures for the Joint Task Force of able youths as community-based vigilante volunteers in order to complement the efforts of security operatives in the fight against criminal activities in the region like that of the Community Protection Guard (CPG) launched in Zamfara on Saturday.
“The group faulted negative reactions over the suggestion of Zamfara State Governor and bemoans at hurried comments of discouragement by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, and other elites who are economical with the truth of happening on the recent kidnapping, killings and attacks of the communities in North-West region and environs by suspected bandits.
“From Zurmi to Tsafe, from Bakura to Maru to Shinkafi, these bandits have continued with their deadly and dastardly attacks against innocent people because security agencies are overwhelmed with inadequate manpower, precision equipment and logistics facilities to nip the nefarious activities of these blood-thirsty terrorists, insurgents and bandits in the bud.
“In this case, Governor Matawalle is the man wearing the shoe and knows where it hurts, hence, our call on all meaning Nigerians to support his call on locals to legally acquire arms to protect and defend their communities against any form of criminal invasion.
“Therefore, we are supporting any leader that seems to have agreed and made a clear and acceptable decision within the ambit of law to bring lasting peace and security to the lives and properties of citizens.
“Nothing is more important than a leader in playing his role of saving lives and properties of his people than attending funerals or making a sympathy visit and lamentations after attacks.
“Proactive measures that include supporting military & Police operations, provision of logistics and giving communities’ rights of self-defence, are more important and best options for bringing a lasting and assured peace, cohesion and security to people in dire situations like now.”
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