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Nigerian Senate Committees pledge budget support for development of Solid Minerals

Dr. Oladele Alake, Honourable Minister for Solid Minerals Development (2nd left), Accompanied by Dr. Mary Ogbe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Solid Minerals Development (r) and Other Directors-General from the Ministry at the Presentation of Budget Before Senate Committee on Appropriations, in Abuja, FCT Photo: State House

*The Senate Committees on Appropriations and Solid Minerals pledge to support the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development to make the requisite impact of making the mining sector contribute immensely to the Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As the mandatory budget defence sessions continue to hold in the National Assembly (NASS), in Abuja, FCT, the Senate Committees on Appropriations and Solid Minerals Wednesday, December 6, 2023, affirmed the imperative of increasing budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development, in order to enable the mining sector to take the lead in diversifying the Nigerian economy.

Addressing the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals during a budget defence session, Dr. Oladele Alake, Honourable Minister for Solid Minerals Development, reeled off his achievements over the past three months.

Segun Tomori, Special Assistant to the Minister on Media, in a statement issued Wednesday noted Dr. Alake said that a solid foundation had been laid for the development of solid minerals under his stewardship.

The Minister also disclosed that “solid minerals is the next petroleum of Nigeria, but for us to critically, efficiently, and proficiently harness these resources and convert them to revenue and increase our GDP, we must lay certain ground rules.”

He further said: “We must put in place some enduring  infrastructure. To tackle illegal mining and other sharp practices, we must put in place a pre-emptive strategy that will reduce the proclivity to commit such vices.

“That’s what my team and I decided to do when I came in through a 7-point agenda, which I announced to the world and is contained in the document I passed to you.”

The Minister as well asserted that the first step he undertook was to generate attention for the mining sector within the country, and in the international community, which he noted has yielded tremendous fruits as international investors have shown enthusiasm to invest in the sector, with Lithium topping the list of minerals, whose value chain has attracted the most attention.

“My team and I recently had a meeting with the British Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden on 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.

“He expressed his interest in our Lithium, promising to mobilise a consortium of British investors to invest in the value chain.”

Alake disclosed that “he  moved a step further to invite President Bola Tinubu for a parley to consolidate the process.”

Having shifted global interest to Nigeria’s solid minerals, the Minister stressed that the next most crucial step is the generation of the necessary geoscientific data.

This process, he noted, is essential 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,” said he.

The Minister also noted: “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.”

Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, applauds Alake, pledges support to mining sector

Responding, Sen. Ekong Samson, Chairman of Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, lauded Dr. Alake for his presentation.

The Federal lawmaker  assured him of the support of the Senate Committee in ensuring solid minerals sector achieve its potential to become the next petroleum of the country.

Samson, however, frowned on the paltry budgetary proposals of the ministry, emphasising it is grossly inadequate to make the requisite impact of making the mining sector contribute immensely to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He pledged that the Committee would make a case for increased allocations to the Ministry.

Likewise, Sen. Olamilekan Adeola, FCA, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, commended Dr. Alake on his giant strides so far.

Sen. Adeola also corroborated the position of the Senate Solid Minerals Committee, that budgetary allocations should be scaled up, so as to enable the Ministry to generate at least N50 billion revenue for 2024, as against the proposed N12 billion.

The Senators were unanimous in their resolve to support the reforms of the Minister, and ensure he has all he needs to make the mining sector a major revenue earner for the country, said Tomori in the statement.

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