By Rabi Momoh
The Senate Committees on Appropriation and Solid Minerals pledge an upward review of the budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development to enable it carry out its mandate effectively for the good of the economy and the country at large.
The lawmakers who made this known during the budget defense of the ministry in Abuja affirmed that, scaling up the allocation to the sector would, enable it generate at least 50 billion naira revenue for 2024, as against the proposed 12 billion naira.
They frowned at the paltry budgetary proposals of the ministry, emphasising that it was grossly inadequate to make the requisite impact of making the mining sector contribute immensely to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), pledging that the committee will make a case for increased allocations.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Olamilekan Adeola-Yayi and his counterpart of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Senator Ekong Samson expressed their commitment to support the ministry in its efforts to diversify the economy and increase the revenue base of the country.
The lawmakers, who also pledged to work closely with the ministry to ensure the sector reaches its full potential, stressed the need for proper monitoring of the nation’s abundant resources especially against illegal miners.
Presenting the budget to committee, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake said the foundation for the diversification of country’s economy had been laid through its articulated policies and programmes.
Dr Alake told the lawmakers that with the ministry’s favorable policies and programmes, with government’s commitment, both domestic and international investors had begun to indicate interest to invest in the mining industry.
“My team and I recently had a meeting with the British Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden at Downing Street, on the sidelines of the Mines and Money Conference, based on some of the activities that we have been able to put in place in the last three months and he expressed his interest in our Lithium, promising to mobilise a consortium of British investors to invest in the value chain”. He said
Dr Alake explained that with vested interest of global investment in Nigeria’s solid minerals, geo-scientific data had become crucial to guide investors in making informed decisions or projections on available mineral resources.
“For instance, previous work in the geo-data section has shown that we have about 44 minerals that are in demand, globally. However, we do not have data that will tell us the quantum of what we have across the country. What the investors or operators are doing now are partly speculative, and no big player will come into our sector, based on speculation. All of these are contingent on the geo-scientific data we can generate, and these things don’t come cheap. We don’t have equipment locally, we don’t have certain technical personnel. This means that we rely on international assistance. This means distinguished senators that we need your assistance in terms of budgetary allocations”, the minister added.
Dr Alake was therefore optimistic that with support from government and the senate, the mining sector would soon take its rightful place in the development process of the country.