The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Ogah, has lamented what he termed absence of support from Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for the development of mines and solid mineral sector.
The minister, was speaking at a two-day public hearing, organized by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy.
The public hearing was designed to get inputs of stakeholders on the establishment of four bills and an investigative motion for the solid minerals sector.
The bills, Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation Establishment Bill 2021,
Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Establishment Bill 2021, Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021, Explosive Act 1964 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021 are response to the urgent need to investigate loss of nine billion dollars annually due to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.
Ogah, while making his presentation said that the ministry would have done wonders for the country if the Central Bank of Nigeria had believed in them or supported them the way it had been supporting agriculture.
He maintained, that the ministry of Mines and Steel Development is one ministry that has remained untapped, unknown, but can change the land
Minister Ogah, who called for support in all areas of development for the sector, said there is need to support research for growth of the sector and therefore, asked the ministry of finance to speed up the export policy on solid minerals, because according to him, that is the only way to have operators into the sector.
Ogah urged citizens to become involved in checking the activities of intruders in the mining sector as the Federal Government had gone ahead to establish processing plants for the solid minerals sector which is currently under construction in all the six geopolitical zones.
He implored the senate to wade into issues between the mineral act and the land use act, as it has become an issue between the ministry and the states so as to harmonize all the issues and have clear direction for the growth of the sector.
Earlier, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Tanko Almakura, said the bills were designed to accelerate diversification of the economy from a mono economy of oil to solid minerals.
He said the bills, when passed would make the sector more attractive for investors, given the abundance of solid mineral resources in all parts of the country.