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We want solid minerals contribution to GDP to surpass oil – Alake

“The ministry is determined to ensure that the solid minerals sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) surpasses that of oil.”

Dele Alake
Dr Dele Alake, Minister of Solid Minerals Development

The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake, who said this in an interview on Sunday, June 2, 2024, in Abuja, noted that the administration of President Bola Tinubu was putting in place policies and initiatives aimed at diversifying the economy and ensuring that it generates more revenue than oil in the near future.

He said that the move was necessary, especially with the global upsurge of energy transition, which would reduce the demand of oil.

“We have been totally dependent on oil for decades; everyone has been dependent on the free flow of petrol dollars on the economy.

“And the critical sector of the economy such as agriculture and solid minerals was neglected.

“Our objective is to make the solid minerals contribution to the GDP to surpass oil.

“By the time all our policy initiatives go through the gestation period and begins to manifest results, the revenue that will be accruing to Nigeria from this sector would be enormous.

“We are going to recover trillions to the coffers of the Nigerian government and for the benefit of Nigerians at large,” he said.

He said that Nigeria possesses the critical minerals in commercial quantities across its states needed for energy transition, which the ministry was aggressively marketing to attract big players to invest in the sector.

“We embarked on an aggressive marketing to unlocking the richness of the potential, making sure we push out information on the number of minerals that we have, the type and their demand nationally and internationally,” he said.

According to him, negotiations are ongoing with an auditing firm to audit the sector aimed at sanitising it to ensure the appropriate accruals to boost the country’s GDP.

“As we speak, we are far in our negotiations with an auditing firm to come and audit the entire sector, because we have lost a lot of money in the past.

“We know that operators will under declare what they are carting away, even the payment of royalties, they under pay, taxes they evade.

“So, we are in the process of engaging internationally recognised auditing firm that has done the same thing in other parts of the world, in more than 20 countries.

“So that they come and help us recover lost revenue and put some measures in place going forward so that we will no longer loose revenue.

“We are going to recover trillions to the coffers of the Nigerian government and for the benefit of Nigerians at large,” he said.

The minister had said that a German company, Geo Scan, conducted a preliminary survey that indicates that Nigeria has $750 billion worth of solid minerals underground, which had not been harnessed.

Alake added that the Federal Government would deploy technology for the surveillance of mining sites across the country.

He said that the technology would be in addition to the 2,220 personnel of the Mining Marshal Corps drawn from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to combat illegal mining.

The corps deployed across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were also trained on modern warfare by the military to secure Nigeria’s natural resources.

“We are introducing some technology; we are not just relying on men and materials alone.

“The satellite surveillance gadgets we are putting in there is to enable us see in real time in all mining sites in Nigeria.

“So that when we notice any infraction, very quickly we can deploy the mining marshals to go there so we don’t even have to wait for any interpersonal communication.

“That reduces the time of knowledge and action. Right now, we depend on people passing intelligence to us but when the satellite surveillance gadget is working, we will be able to see it ourselves.

“Which is a step forward on the right direction”, he said.

The minister said that to attract investors to the sector, especially the big players, it was necessary to put in place policies and initiatives aimed at securing their investments.

“We needed to put in place policy measures to ensure that when these investors come, they are not just coming into the darkness that we had here before.

“They will ask some questions, what is the security of their operating environment, their investment, personnel and the ease of doing business in Nigeria and the sector,” he said.

He said that the administration of President Bola Tinubu inherited a lot of security challenges such as banditry, kidnapping and terrorism, which were associated with the solid mineral sector.

He explained that most mining activities were in the forests, where such crimes were being perpetrated.

He said that the administration of Tinubu was determined to sanitise the sector and reposition it to contribute significantly to Nigeria`s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to the minister, concerted efforts are being deployed to curb the menace with other government agencies, such as the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), the Nigerian Army and the Police for rapid result.

“I had a meeting with Inspector General of Police on this issue and he is willing to give us more men to support those that we have on ground.

“Even the EFCC is cooperating with us, they are also arresting, the army also enumerated the number of illegal miners that they have arrested, it is a holistic effort cutting across all security agencies.

“But the mine marshals are just the face of the security apparatus that we are putting in place to combat illegal mining,” he said.

By Martha Agas

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