Engr. Obadiah Simon Nkom, Director-General of Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office

Nigeria digitalises mineral titles, operational processes for improved revenue

*We have commenced a programme of converting all the works we have done in hard copies into e-forms, and archive them to better regulate the mining sector in the country, says Engr. Obadiah Simon Nkom, Director-General, Mining Cadastre Office

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

In line with its reform process already said to be bearing modest fruit in wider market appeal and expanded revenue hauls, the Federal Government has disclosed that it is currently intensifying efforts at a full digital migration of the country’s mineral titles and their operational processes.

Engr. Obadiah Simon Nkom, Director-General of the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office (MCO), in Abuja, FCT, disclosed this development during a recent courtesy visit to the agency by a Premium Times team, led by Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Some natural resources in Nigeria

The Mining Cadastre Office is an agency under the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, which is an outcome of the Federal Government’s mining sector reform programme.

The programme was implemented by Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in collaboration with the World Bank Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project.

The MCO’s key responsibility is the management and administration of mineral titles and the maintenance of cadastral registers, cornerstones of a secure mineral rights system.

Nkom told the visiting team that the government’s reform process is already bearing modest fruit, as the MCO helped to increase the 2019 revenue pot of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in the country.

The reform efforts generated “50 percent of the total revenue of the entire ministry,” said the Director-General.

According to the engineer, who doubles as the President of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, the attempt to achieve higher 2020 returns was thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic that struck at the beginning of the year and disrupted the entire process in the past year.

He said: “But despite the COVID challenge, we were still able to make close to what we made in 2019,” though not affixing figures to the agency’s receipts.

Nkom observed that “we have commenced a programme of converting all the work we have done in hard copies so far into e-forms, and archive them.

“The World Bank has started the aspect of thematic maps. These are some of the programmes we have lined up.

“In this country, we have the pipelines, restricted/protected areas, military formations, etc., we have all these areas that have towns and villages. We must be able to integrate this in the thematic map, into our system, and have them in one layer for everyone’s accessibility,” said the MCO Chief.

On the rationale for the migration to digitalisation mineral titles and operational processes in Nigeria, he stated that it will aid applicants’ accessibility.

He noted: “Anybody can stay in the comfort of their homes from any part of the world and apply for mineral titles without coming to MCO, and this would also change investors’ perception of the sector.”

In respect of revocation of mineral titles, Nkom disclosed the MCO has reached to the rod in his reform process with plans to revoke titles where the holders have failed to pay the prescribed fees, while the names of defaulters have been published as a prelude to a revocation order.

The MCO Director-General further stated: “Last year, we published the defaulters and revocation of titles. The effect of publishing these had some impacts.

“The first thing it does is that it sends some signals to those who acquire titles and keep their licences. It creates more jitters.

“But the first thing we are supposed to do is, no title will be revoked without giving the person 30 days which will be sent to the registered post. We will give him/her 30 days from the day he received the letter to remedy the effect.”

According to him, “once it’s after the 30 days without the payment, then we seek approval from the Minister to revoke the title. It means he/she has not complied with the provisions of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act.

“The essence of this is to have the syndrome of use it or lose it. It’s not about having mineral titles in the country but knowing the active mines we have.”

Earlier in his introductory remarks, Mr. Olorunyomi had stated the key reason for the visit was to thank Engr. Nkom and his agency for the support they gave Premium Times last year by helping to co-host two webinars highlighting developments in the country’s mining sector.

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