FG to halt issuing license to miners without plans, says Alake

Kunle Sanni, Abuja

The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake has affirmed the resolve of the federal government to foreclose the acquisition of mining licenses by prospective investors without requisite plans for local value addition.

Speaking while playing host to members of the House Committee on Solid Minerals on an oversight visit to the ministry, Alake applauded the lawmakers for their support in repositioning the mining sector, stressing that changing the economic fortunes of Nigeria is a joint task by both the executive and legislature.

He also seized the occasion to assure the legislators of the significant contribution of sub-nationals to mining development, stressing that state chairmen of the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO) and five members of the committee are nominated by state governments.

“The importance of this committee cannot be overstated because whether we like it or not, we are at the cusp of history and it does beckon on us individually and collectively whether as executive or legislature to change the paradigm of Nigeria’s economic fortunes because we have to diversify our economy away from the mono-cultural dependency on oil. Again, that underscores the significance of this committee because of the importance of the ministry in that regard. That is why I view your visit here today with a sense of proprietary, responsibility, and appreciation of the oversight functions that you are saddled with.

“We welcome you and believe that from the type of comradeship that I have personally enjoyed with the committee and the leadership, I have no doubt in my mind, that what the executive of this ministry needs to forge ahead to achieve its stated objectives in terms of logistics support, legislative framework crafting is assured. it gives me great confidence that when you have members of a committee that understand the issues at stake, understand the problems that the ministry faces and know how to give the necessary backup, then we in the executive will have no excuse for failure. We can only forge ahead.” The Minister said.

Highlighting the renewed interest of the international community in Nigeria’s mineral resources, Alake stressed that his 7-point agenda has put the mining sector on the global front burner since he assumed office

“With the support of the Permanent Secretary, management and the House committee, we have been able to project the sector globally and the result of our efforts culminated in my election as the Chairman of the Africa Minerals Strategy Group (AMSG) on the sidelines of the Future Minerals Forum (FMF) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia based on our 7-point agenda which was applauded by all and sundry. This is a group that consists of all African countries’ Ministers of Solid Minerals/Mineral Resources”.

Speaking further, the minister revealed that with the pact that led to the formation of the AMSG, there is now unity of purpose on the African continent on the issue of local value addition.

” We are no longer going to allow anybody or license any company that wants to go into the mineral sector without giving us a plan for local value addition like processing, and refining and this has a multiplier effect on the economy. It instantly generates employment rather than a few people carting away lithium, gold, and the like to other countries to sell. These minerals must now be processed in Nigeria, creating more value and beneficiation for local communities where they are sourced, “Dr Alake added.

On security, the Minister revealed that the Federal Government has finalized a new security outfit to secure the nation’s natural resources that will incorporate the existing structure of the Nigeria Security & Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) with an infusion of technology and specialized training.

“We have come up with what we believe can stem insecurity around natural resources like solid minerals, forests, and marine economy. We decided to use the existing structure of the NSCDC because of the cumbersome process of establishing a new security architecture. In terms of deterrence, the new NSCDC corps will be useful, “he asserted

According to the Minister, there will be a command in every state of the country and will involve the infusion of a huge dose of technology, noting the modern-day security architecture is predicated on mostly technology rather than reliance on only boots on the ground.

“What a whole battalion can do, one single drone can do it, so the new security outfit will be largely technologically driven, and they will be under the overall command of the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development (MSMD). They are to secure our mine sites, and help in stemming theft, illegal mining, and carting away of our solid minerals.

“The command structure of the new outfit will be inaugurated in the coming days, the Minister affirmed.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the committee, Gaza Gbefwi stated that the House Committee on Solid Minerals, in fulfilling its constitutional responsibility of oversight, paid a visit to the ministry to ensure that the executive is doing what it is supposed to do for citizens to get maximum beneficiation from the mining sector.

He expressed appreciation to the Minister for cooperating with the legislature in its oversight function of checks and balances, emphasizing that the committee will do what is necessary to back up reforms with requisite legislation that will enable the executive to propel the sector into an enviable position, with significant contribution to the nation’s economy.

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