Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule has said nationals of other countries were benefiting more from Nigeria’s solid mineral resources than the indigenes who get only peanuts from the sector.
Sule made the assertion at a public policy dialogue on Nigeria’s minerals and mining legislation, organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja yesterday.
The ‘Home of Solid Minerals’ state’s governor insisted that if government and other stakeholders are serious about the future of the economic situation of Nigeria, they must reform the solid mineral sector and come up with policies that benefit Nigerians.
He said: “One community in Nasarawa got some kind of compensation of a very small amount of N700 million, they were so excited which was nothing compared to the time when lithium was running roughly about $76,000 per metric tonne.
“If we are serious about the future of the economic situation of Nigeria, we must reform what we call the solid mineral sector and if we must reform we must come up with policies and reform them where it has to benefit Nigerians. If we don’t do that, we will just be joking.”
The chairman, House Committee Solid Minerals, Hon. Jonathan Gaza, said the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act (Amendment) Bill being considered proposes five per cent of the total revenue of all minerals mined to the host communities (Hostcom).
He said the bill, when passed, will allow for establishment of the Mines Inspection and Environmental Agency to provide improved deeper oversight of mining activities and bridge the gap between the federal and state governments to empower the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee for effective and joint oversight.
Declaring the dialogue open, deputy speaker of the House, Hon. Benjamin Kalu said the legislation, if passed, will represent a turning point for the nation’s mineral wealth, admitting that Nigeria’s vast mineral resources have remained largely untapped, and undeservedly overshadowed by reliance on oil.
Kalu lamented that the challenges of insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of skilled labour continue to act as bottlenecks in solid minerals development but they would be addressed by the amendment bill and other mining-related legislation currently under consideration.