By Andrew Oota
The Senate committee on solid minerals has summoned the minister of mines and solid minerals, Dele Alake to appear before it next week Wednesday to brief it on the federal government’s work plan to develop the sector and block illegal mining .
The committee expressed dissatisfactions over the inability of the minister to honour Senate invitations since assumption of office with his consistent excuses of having to travel with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu .
The committee expressed worries that the Honourable Minister has abandoned his primary duties of bringing the mining sector to international reckon ,stressing that his relatively inexperience in the sector has further created a crowdy future for it.
Chairman of the committee Senator Ekong Sampson who issued the summon at its meeting mainatined also that his committee will ensure the right legal frameworks that will bring a positive turn around of the sector .
The committee pointed out that accountability and transparency will be the watch word of the committee ,adding that the Bitumen bill sent to the committee will be expeditiously fast tracked and prevented to the Senate for passage and onward transition to the President for assent.
According to him, “The Nigerian solid minerals and extractive industry is very vast and grossly under-taped . God in his unquestionable benevolence ,has blessed Nigeria with huge mineral deposits .However a number of factors have continued to hamper the sector . The sector has the potentials of contributing significantly to our economy”.
The committee chairman also pointed out that the 2021 contributions of the solid minerals sector to Nigeria’s GDP stood at 0.63 pee cent , “the performance, though ,an improvement when compared to previous years where it contributed 0.45 percent in 2020 and 0.26 percent in 2019, is still negligible and disappointing considering the humongous potentials therein”.
The committee chairman expressed concerns that the low output has been attributed to the over 90 percent of the activities of the mining industry are dominated by artisanal operators.
“Nigeria is blessed with over forty identifiable minerals in varying commercial quantities”
“Developing the solid minerals base of the country can offer the Nigerian economy the much needed diversification it has been yearning for. Our vast solid mineral endowments should be utilized to drive prosperity for all Nigerians , not abused to fuel insecurity,exacerbate economic dislocation and opportunity theft. We will through this committee ,vigorously explore trajectories for our solid minerals to generate revenue meaningfully for the federal government and help strengthen our economy”.