By Obas Esiedesa
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite has assured mining stakeholders that the Federal Government would protect mining host communities from environmental pollution and exploitation by operators.
Adegbite spoke at a Webinar session organized by Global Rights for stakeholders in the Nigerian mining sector, with the theme: Promoting Good governance and Fiscal justice in the Mining Sector.
The Minister who was represented by his SSA Technical, Mr. Olu Adedayo, said the government was determined to develop the mining sector as part of policies to diversify the economy.
According to him, government has put in place measures to reduce the risk investors’ face in the sector by providing an enabling environment for them to operate.
“Natural resources play significant role as the engine of sustained economic growth accounting for more than a quarter of the world GDP. Mining helps society and governments in creating jobs and wealth for communities, industrial development, energy efficiency and many others.
“The minerals and mining sector faces several expectations and challenges particularly from the industry participants. National and sub-national governments agitate for increased revenues from the sector for economic growth, local communities look up to the industry to provide employment, infrastructure and other benefits, Civil rights campaigners expect respect and social equality and transparency from operators, Environmentalists insist on high-standard of performance from operators”.
He added that “for investors, their investment decisions are based on how well the government derisks the sector by providing a conducive ecosystem including investment incentives and geological data at subsidized rates.
“The development of mineral resources in Nigeria is aligned to the African Mining Vision which aims at a transparent equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad based sustainable growth and socio-economic development.
“This Vision provided the guide for the intergraded policy intervention of my Ministry. The policy actions are focused on converting natural assets to address poverty and wealth creation in our society without compromise to the nation’s human and social security”.
Earlier in her welcome remarks, Global Rights Executive Director, Abiodun Baiyewu explained that webinar was organized to bring key stakeholders, government agencies, businesses, host communities, civil society groups and the media to have a constructive debate about the future of mining in the country.
She said Nigeria needs to develop a strong framework that ensures social and fiscal justice through it mineral resources.
Giving a background to the challenge, she said: “For decades, Nigeria has relied hydrocarbon resources as its main source of revenue for the country. Over time, that is changing because first the price of crude oil at the international market has suffered such a dip in recent years that we cannot continue to rely on that for our revenue.
“Not only has the price of crude oil dropped radically, not many countries are willing to buy. With Covid, the price of oil has dropped even further.
“In 2015 when President Buhari came into office he had said Nigeria needed a diversification of its income sources and had said Nigeria would rely on agriculture and mining as other facet of the economy and will develop those.
“But very little has been done to develop the mining sector. However, with Covid, it hoped that Nigeria will then begin its concerted effort into ensuring that the mining sector ensures fiscal justice for the entire nation. Ensures it deals with the issue of pollution before even has a chance to begin and the rights of mining host communities are protected” she added.
Also in her remarks, the National President of Women in Mining, Janet Adeyemi urged the Federal Government to tackle the challenge posed by the influx of foreigners into the mining sector especially at the artsana level.
She warned that government was not just losing revenues from the activities of the foreigners especially from Asian countries, but also faces security challenges from their activities.
The Webinar had presentations from Dr. Dauda Garuba of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) who advocated for a robust fiscal regime that makes payment process in the sector clear.