The Senate, on Thursday, directed its Committee on Solid Minerals to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the dwindling revenue derivable from solid minerals development in the country.
The Red Chamber also mandated the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to stop further sales of all mining assets and minerals pending the outcome of the investigation of the activities in the mining sector.
The Senate further urged relevant security agencies to strengthen surveillance on solid mineral resources to avoid further theft.
It directed members of its Committee on Solid Minerals to review the activities of industry players at the policy formulation and execution in the downstream, midstream and upstream operations of the solid minerals sector.
They will also review BPE privatisation or commercialisation programmes of all mining and mineral resources from 1999 to date, and as well ascertain the extent and impact of illegal mining activities, extent of complicity of both local and expatriate industry players.
The resolutions of the Senate were sequel to the adoption of a motion seeking comprehensive review of the ‘Input and Output Values of the Nigerian Mining Industry in Light of its Central Role to Economic Diversification, Foreign Exchange Earnings and social inclusion’, sponsored by the chairman of the Standing Committee on Solid Minerals, Senator Osita Ngwu.
Moving the motion, Ngwu who represents Enugu West, noted that virtually all economic development programmes and fiscal documents, ranging from the Vision 20-20-20 Report, the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS), the 30-year Infrastructure Master Plan Development Programme and the current Mid-Term National Development Plans, all identified the Nigerian mining sector as central to economic diversification and social inclusion.
He said the Senate was aware that after several decades of policy incoherence and weak institutional dis-alignment, the economic potential of the sector to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the economy has remained dismal.
Ngwu observed that quarrying dominates the total output of mining sector with almost 90% contribution and an increasing growth rate that is largely driven by products such as granite, gravel, marble and others.
The lawmaker made reference to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Solid Mineral Industry Report 2020, which indicates that the five-year trend of Solid Minerals Contribution to GDP from 2016 to 2020 has been inconsistent and fluctuating.
He said, “While Nigeria gets less from the Sector, about 0.45% in 2020, other African countries enjoy significant contribution from the sector to their GDP. For example, the sector contributes over 40% to the GDP of Botswana; and in Congo and South Africa, it is about 25% and 18% respectively. Also aware that the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE has been selling and is on the verge of concluding the privatization and commercialization of all public funded facilities relating to the Nigerian Mining and mineral sector, in spite of the fact that none of its privatization programs has shown any concise beneficial impact to the mining industry as it had severally pronounced.
“Concerned that despite the abundant mineral endowment of the country, their critical national importance and huge resources so far expended by government, the contribution of the mineral sector to job creation, infrastructure development and the GDP of the economy remains one of the lowest across the African Sub-saharan region.”
Following the adoption of the motion, the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who presided over the plenary session, thereafter gave the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals three weeks to carry out the investigation and report back to the House for further legislative action.