The executive secretary of the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF), Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi, has refuted a report in a segment of the media that funds from the Fund were used to fund the 2015 general election and the Africa Cup of Nations, describing it as erroneous and misleading.
Hajiya Shinkafi spoke at the sidelines of the Unveiling of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Solid Minerals Industry Report for Year 2021 yesterday in Abuja where she was a special guest of honour.
LEADERSHIP reports that the SMDF was established in 2007 to promote and de-risk investments in the Nigerian mining sector to attract investors and boost the diversification of the country’s economy.
But recent reports in some section of media had indicated that out of the resources made available to it between 2013 and 2014, N738.7 billion and $3 million respectively “had been illegally disbursed from the fund for extraneous expenses, including the 2015 elections, the African Nations Cup” as well as roads and drainage rehabilitation in some states.
To this the SMDF chief executive said she was surprised, as anyone else, to read the report published by some media (not LEADERSHIP) that the agency’s resources were used to fund matters completely outside the remit of the agency, contending that the SMDF operates with an establishment Act – which the management complies with strictly – and that financing football and political activities were not part of the Fund’s sphere of operations.
She also clarified that by 2015 the SMDF had not been capitalised as an interventionist agency, adding that the authors of the report may have mistaken the SMDF with another agency.
“The Solid Minerals Development Fund has never funded any football event nor did we sponsor the 2015 elections as reported in some quarters. SMDF was only in existence on paper by the Act Parliament of 2007 in the Mining Act. The Fund was not capitalised or operational until recently. The capitalisation of SMDF started just last year after it was repositioned and restructured in 2020.”
According to her, the report alludes to the Natural Resources Development Fund (NRDF), not SMDF.
“This is news to me. I like football, but I’ve never funded the African Cup of Nations. I’ve never funded any of those things. I think it was a committee report they were quoting. The functions of the Solid Minerals Development Fund is totally different from that of Natural Resources Development Fund (NRDF). I can understand how the two can be mistaken for each other, but it was not us; we’ve never ever funded anything like the African Cup of Nations.
“As a matter of fact, the first time ever that the fund (SMDF) was capitalised was last year, around May. So we didn’t even have capital at the time, hence it wouldn’t have been us,” Shinkafi explained.
She noted if there were abuses at the NRDF, it must have been before the immediate past and current administrations.
Speaking to the seven-point agenda unveiled on Sunday in Abuja with a target of 50 per cent GDP increase by the minister of Solid Minerals, Dele Alake, the SMDF manager said it is a challenge to all stakeholders in the sector to work hard towards achieving the mandate.
“And I think that when you set the bar high, you go for the highest possibility and achievement. Now, definitely, more can be done from the sector to contribute to the GDP. And I think with the measures that are in place now, we can make it even if it’s not 100 per cent,” she said.
On the possibility of the establishment of a state owned company as proposed by the Minister conflicting in role with the SMDF, the ES said there was nothing conflicting in their roles.
“We’re actually very excited about that announcement. The equivalent of your question is: Does the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF)conflict with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC)? It doesn’t. We have distinct roles and mandates, and we will actually reinforce and support that cooperation,” she said.
She congratulated NEITI for the timely report saying it’s for the public and private sectors to initiate informed policies for implementation towards bringing in increased revenue from the sector.