Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has again canvassed for more realistic and sustainable law that would reposition the mining sector for the better, reemphasizing that, Nigeria’s future lies in solid minerals and agriculture.
Engineer Sule made the plea while hosting the members of the House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals, at the Government House, on Thursday.
As part of the ongoing reforms of the mining sector, the Governor called for a wholistic review of the various aspects concerning mineral deposits in the country, with a view to evolving a home grown solution that would consider the peculiarities of each of the states of the federation.
According to Engineer Sule, some of the laws regulating the mining sector need to be scrapped and with more realistic and sustainable laws put in place to take the sector to its right destination.
“Nigeria has abundant mineral resources, and in Nasarawa, we are a good example that we can show to the world. The good thing about Nigeria is that no state of the federation, even as small as Lagos is, that you will not find minerals.
“We can’t be copy and paste any longer. We have to look at the various aspects of our own minerals and see how we can have a home grown solution. Today in Nigeria, one of the reasons why we are losing a lot and witnessing so much illegal mining, is because people go to acquire an exploration license and from the first day, they just go into mining instead of exploration,” he stated.
He explained that such situation is only possible as a result of inadequate staffing, supervision and monitoring.
“That is why states like ours is not getting anything from the 13 percent derivation from mining. Otherwise, we cannot have such potentials in mineral deposits such as tantalite, granite, tin, and recently lithium, all being taken out of the state to other states to do the first processing and yet we are not getting any share of the 13 percent,” he said.
The Governor therefore, urged members of the House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals, to expedite action in carrying out all the reforms and amendments to the existing laws, that would further rejuvenate the mining sector.
As part of the intended reforms, Engineer Sule urged the lawmakers to consider making it mandatory that before any prospective miner is giving any license for any activity, such a person must present their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), aimed at safeguarding mining communities.
“We should not allow what happened in the Niger Delta to repeat itself here. Once you have this law in place, it would benefit everybody because there is no state in the country that does not have one mineral deposit or the other,” he added.
He used the opportunity of the visit to explain the nature of challenges his administration is grappling with in the mining sector.
“The problem that we have in Nasarawa State that we are focusing is more even on EIA. Because Community Development Agreement (CDA)in Nasarawa State has been reduced to what is called consent letter. A company would just go to a community, obtain what they call consent letter, take the consent letter back to Ministry of Solid Minerals and get their license. If you ask them what the CDA is, they have no idea. If you ask them about reclamation of the area, they have no idea,” he stated.
Engineer Sule welcomed the idea of strengthening the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee ( MIREMCO), while also calling for a legislation that would facilitate for only government to undertake exploration activities in mining just as currently obtained in oil and gas exploration where the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) carries out exploration in all frontier basins.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals, Hon. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi, said Nasarawa State, being the Home of Solid Minerals, is the first port of call for the committee.
Hon. Gbefwi, who represents Karu/Keffi/Kokona at the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, briefed the Governor on the steps the present 10th Assembly is working towards reforimg the Nigeria Minerals Act 2007, with a view to making more home grown.
He said the present national assembly is looking at five critical areas namely governance, industrialization and economy, security, environment and feoscientific data and standardization.
“We believe that these are the fulcrum on which this particular sector needs to get right and we need to make intervention for us to get to where we want to get in the country. It’s this that take us to look at the Minerals Act of 2007 and an attempt was made to amend it in 2021. We must see how we can make it more home grown,” he said.
Hon. Gbefwi used the opportunity of the visit to present Engineer Sule with the 10th national assembly draft legislative agenda, as well as the gazetted bills, and the national assembly journal.
“They have gone for first reading. We are praying by next week, they will be billed for second reading,” the lawmaker explained.
He equally extended an invitation to the Governor to attend the House of Representatives public policy dialogue that is coming ahead of the public hearing, where Engineer Sule is expected to share his wealth of experience from the extractive industry to guide the lawmakers.