The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah, has blamed the lack of support from the Central Bank of Nigeria for the underdevelopment of the mines and solid minerals sector.
Mr Ogah made this assertion at a two-day public hearing of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy.
“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,” the junior minister said while making his presentation.
Ogah, who called for support to develop the sector, called on the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to “speed up the export policy on solid minerals because that is the only way to have operators into the sector.”
The public hearing was to get stakeholders inputs on the preparations of four bills and for an investigative motion for the solid minerals sector.
The bills are the Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation Establishment Bill 2021 and Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Establishment Bill 2021.
The others are the Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021, Explosive Act 1964 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021 and the urgent need to investigate the loss of $9 billion annually due to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.
Mr Ogah said the federal government had established processing plants for the solid minerals sector, currently under construction in the six geopolitical zones.
According to him, “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.”
On the bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Mineral Development Commission (NMDC), Mr Ogah said he wants an enlargement of the minerals listed there.
“Let us not limit ourselves to only seven minerals because we have other minerals that are needed for the industrial revolution.
“We must look at how to fast track development of these mineral resources, and so we must look at the relationship between the ministry and the state governments.
“States must be ready to be involved in driving the production of mineral resources, not just talking about the resources being cited in the states. States should work toward getting institutions to help drive the development of solid minerals resources in their states,” he said.