The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite, has reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to ensuring that its quest to develop the mining sector does not lead to environmental pollution and infringements on the rights of host communities.
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.
He said the government was determined to develop the mining sector as part of policies to diversify the economy.
Represented by his SSA Technical, Mr. Olu Adedayo, the Minister government has put in place measures to reduce the risk investors’ face in the sector by providing an enabling environment for them to operate.
According to him: “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 societywithout compromise to the nation’s human and social security.
“Against this background and supported by government’s strong will to diversify the economy at this critical period of Covid-19 pandemic, my Ministry has embarked on strategic reforms to ensure that minerals development bring the expected benefits”.
“These reforms”, he explained, “revolve around providing good governance and fiscal integrity for a shared mining prosperity. Accordingly, while we remain focused on attracting private sector investment into the Nigerian mining industry, we also remain focused on ensuring that Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues are not compromised”.
Earlier in her welcome remarks, Executive Director, Global Rights Nigeria, Abiodun Baiyewu explained that the 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.
She called on government to develop a sustainable funding support for the sector, saying “I still wonder where and how we shall generate the needed resources because of the much needed financial and human capital resources.
“Our infrastructure is very weak and cannot support our Mining revolutionary dream. Solid minerals need energy to drive the sector and oil revenue to drive it is inconsistent.
“The downstream sector requires technology and knowledge, we have the knowledge and how do we attract the technology for all the needed transformation”.
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.