By Olufemi Adediran, Abeokuta
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on Friday said if the solid mineral sector is given the appropriate attention and planning capable of taking the country out of the recession.
The former Governor of Ekiti State who was a guest at a Town Hall meeting with Stakeholders in the Mining Sector in Abeokuta, Ogun State, regretted that despite the country’s abundant mineral resources, Nigeria cannot be said to be a mining nation.
“We are a mineral nation, but we are not a mining nation”, Fayemi affirmed.
The Minister stated “In the 70s, mining contributed to 50 percent of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) so what went wrong” and quickly added that the government was determined to reverse the present situation.
At the meeting were representatives of Small Scale Miners, Lafarge Nig. Plc. and Dangote Group of Companies both of which own cement factories in the State.
The aim of the meeting, organised by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in conjunction with the Ogun State government is to exchange ideas on how to move the Mining Industry forward.
He said, at this period of time when oil and gas are dwindling, exploitation of the country’s abundant mineral resources remained a major source of the country’s income.
Fayemi explained that the Mining industry is on exclusive list, hence, he frowned at what he described as the “tension” between many States and the Federal government over taxation on the mining industries.
The former Ekiti State Governor identified multiple taxation by the Federal and State governments, lack of geological data, proliferation of illegal miners among others as challenges facing the sector.
“Exclusivity remains, but participation is allowed,” Fayemi declared on the status of the mining sector.
“To encourage States with high rate of mining activities, the Federal government plans 13 perecent of revenue generated to states, he disclosed.
To this end, Fayemi revealed that auditors from state governments, where mining is taking place, would meet with officials of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission on the adoption of modalities on the percentage of derivation is paid to such states.
The Minister also sought for tariff and tax incentives for operators in the steel sector to encourage private participation in the sector and subsequently contribute to the industrialization agenda of the present government at the centre.
He maintained that the sector would not witness any major development unless the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited is revived.
Fayemi said: “we need to look at local content on steel. The company (Ajaokuta) has the capacity to produce 1.5m metric tonnes and can be expanded to 3m metric tonnes.
“Today in Nigeria, we consume about 7million metric tonnes but we produce about 3m. That means that the remaining 4m metric tonnes are being imported.
“I think we need a combination of tariff and tax incentives in our steel sector. We cannot achieve industrialization unless we conquer steel.”
“We have interacted with all stakeholders to hear their complaints and challenges and we have used these challenges to put up a roadmap which the government (Federal) has approved.”
Fayemi who insisted that the Mining law is one of the best laws in Africa, assured that his Ministry would strictly regulate operation of the industry to “Ensure that there is no confusion in the Sector.
The State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun advocated for synergy between Federal government and State governments to improve productivity in mining sector.
“Ogun took the lead in statistical analysis of mining activities in 2016, but regrettably, the gateway state is rated 32 non-oil revenue generating States”, the governor lamented.
Apart from the environmental hazards, Amosun said businessmen and women in the mining sector have little or not respect for the host communities and the state.
“I think this is unfair”, the governor expressed.
The State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru in his address, disclosed that last year, Nigeria produced 43,495,423.12 tons of solid minerals, out of which Ogun State produced 16,376,547.50 (37.65percent) the highest.
“Consequently, Ogun State, as a matter of necessity should be a major beneficiary of the 13 percent derivatives from this revenue (that is Royalty) accruable to the federation account for the year 2016 from solid minerals,” the Commissioner affirmed.