Developing the solid minerals sector in Nigeria – President Muhammadu Buhari recently charged senior officials of the Ministry of Mines and Steel to reverse the current underutilisation of the nation’s solid mineral resources. The ministry officials, who were in Aso Rock as part of the on-going briefing of the President by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, were told to change the situation in which the exploitation of solid minerals was mostly in the hands of illegal operators.
The president signaled his determination to fully harness mining for accelerated national development, but the road to that goal appears paved with thorns. This is not the first time that a government in Nigeria would indicate its readiness to develop this sector. But, all promises by past administrations to make the sector a major revenue earner to reduce the nation’s dependence on oil revenue have so far come to nought. We hope that Buhari’s government will be a game changer in this regard. He should match his words with action.
Past governments in the country have, indeed, been sleeping on their rights and those of the entire country by allowing an otherwise vital sector of the economy to remain in the hands of illegal operators. The National Mining Corporation (NMC), supposedly a core agency of the Ministry of Mines and Steel, is reportedly currently grossly undermanned and underfunded. Reports have it that the NMC presently does not have up to 10 staff, with the parent ministry usurping its responsibilities and performing them mostly in the breach.