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Solid Minerals Need N250 billion, But Only Get N24 billion in Capital Budget

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Minister of solid minerals development, Dele Alake, has said the sum of N250 billion was need for exploration if the Ministry is to achieve its mandate in the sector.

Alake however said the N24 billion capital budget allocated to the ministry for the 2024 financial year was “non-starter” and seek parliamentary intervention to jerk the figures up.

The minister stated these when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals to defend the Ministry’s 2024 budget estimates.
The 2024 budget proposals for the Ministry showed that out of total allocation of N29.24 billion, N24.91 billion has been earmarked for capital expenditure.

He said, government cannot leave exploration in the hands of the private sector because if that is done, half of the information would be kept for pecuniary purposes to the detriment of the country’s economic and security interests.

“So it is proper for government to devote substantial amount of funding into exploration. And we are asking for a conservative figure of N250 billion for exploration.

This is because as I said earlier, we have identified 44 minerals but those are the ones identified as at now.
“A foreign agency that we signed an MOU with recently did tell us that the conservative estimate of the minerals that we have underground in Nigeria is over $700 billion and they are basing their estimation on the identified minerals alone.

“Therefore, the entire budget of N24 billion (capital) is a non starter if we are to achieve the stated objectives of the sector. We need nothing less than N250 billion for exploration if we are to achieve the mandate of this sector. The sector should contribute not less than 50 per cent to the nation’s. That 24 billion is a non-starter,” Alake said.

He further stated that powerful Nigerians were involved in illegal mining and also sponsoring banditry as well other acts of terrorism in the country.

The minister said: “One discovery that we have made is that a lot of these insecurities and banditry associated with this sector are sponsored by illegal miners.

“These are not your artisan miners. They are not the people who pick gold on the ground. These are heavy and powerful individuals in our country. They are Nigerians and not foreigners.

“Yes, you can see foreigners as symptoms, but they are not the basics. Nigerians are the powers behind those foreigners that you see on the streets. We are identifying them and employing various strategies, both kinetic and non-kinetic.

“The non-kinetic with that artisan miners, I gave them an ultimatum that they should form themselves into cooperatives because every Nigerian has a right to life and necessities and if the government cannot provide these necessities, we cannot push them into the bush.”

On his part, the committee’s chairman, Hon Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi said Nigeria has the solid minerals needed to attract the kind of foreign exchange needed to transform the country.

He recalled that in the 1970s, the solid minerals sector was accounting for over 50% of contributions to the GDP as against today where it is barely giving a meagre 0.63%.
Gbefwi said: “All hope is not lost especially because Mr. President, during his budget presentation re-echoed the priority this administration has placed on the solid minerals sector and of course the person he has mandated to steer the ship of this sector.

“It is quite exciting to note that he hit the ground running by embarking on strategic bilateral and trade expeditions that will bring the needed investment into our country.

“To start with, exploration has never been the business of the investor but the government who carries out the exploration and based on values gotten, engages or attracts the necessary investments.
“It will shock you to note that the Petroleum sector which is more or less mining and an extractive industry, has earmarked $400 million for frontier exploration as captured by provisions of the PIA being a percentage of the operating profit of the NNPC.”.

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