By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
Federal Government has said that collaboration between relevant stakeholders in a transparent manner would facilitate exploration, exploitation, value addition and sustainable development of the minerals and metal sector of the country.
This was made known by the Minister of Mines and Steel development, Mr. Musa Mohammed Sada when he met with the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who led an auditing firm for the solid minerals sector to the ministry, in Abuja.
The minister stated that for there to be sustainable development of the nation’s minerals and metal sector, “the custodians, regulators and operators must all come together and work out something better for us to be able to move forward in harmonious and transparent manner.”
He explained with the current reforms of government in the country, the minerals and metal sector is private sector driven while the government plays the role of a regulator, noting that no private investor will put his money in an opaque situation, if situations are not cleared as to the way forward for the sector.
Sada welcomed the current administration’s readiness to audit the solid minerals sector through the NEITI, describing it as timely.
He expressed the hope that the auditing process of the minerals and metal sector of the country would ensure that things are done right to move the sector forward.
According to him, “The ministry tried to create a group independently to see what people are doing in the sector; it was just in the process that NEITI came in. This is why our feeling in the ministry is like the exercise (NEITI audit) is our own.
“Everyone in the ministry has the same feeling that the sector has potentials but issues and things and the way they are being done leave much to be desired. This is why we believe that this audit is an opportunity for us to get things right.”
Sada said minerals and metal sector would be the major revenue earner of the government in the nearest future if well articulated.
He said “I have the belief that the solid mineral sector is going to be the future of this country and unless and until we start to do things right in the sector, we are not likely to allow it to do what we believe it can do for us”.
He disclosed that efforts are in top gear to evolve a mining regime within the Economic Community of West African Countries, ECOWAS, towards the development of the solid minerals sector.
He said “The best way is to make sure that we have common mining regime. The same role that you operate in your country will be the same role that you operate here, you do not just come and do what is not in the law.”
The minister also disclosed that his ministry was collaborating with the ministry of trade and investments to create mining corridors in the African continent whereby processing plants and industries are developed based on the type and amount of minerals we have.
He noted that not much attention was paid to the sector in the past due to the discovery of oil; the present administration had put in place a lot of reforms that included institutional and regulatory frameworks to boost investment in the sector.
He expressed the ministry’s readiness to support the auditing process for the development of the minerals and metal sector of the Nigerian economy.
Earlier in her address, the Executive Secretary, NEITI and leader of the delegation, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said the purpose of their visit was to thank the minister for his kind gesture towards the approval of the audit of the solid minerals sector for the year 2007-2010 by the Federal Executive Council as well as to formally introduce the auditing firm, Haruna Yahaya & Co to the minister.
She said “It will be a credit to Nigeria as a country, if we are able to guide our country to meet all the requirements of Extractive Industries and Transparency Initiative, EITI, to become a full member towards the implementation of EITI.”
Mrs. Ahmed sought further cooperation of the ministry towards the success of the auditing exercise of the solid minerals sector.
In his contribution, the managing partner and chief executive officer, Haruna Yahaya & Co, Mr. Haruna Yahaya assured the minister of the success of the auditing exercise, saying that, “The audit firm is looking forward to a good working relationship with the ministry, being the first solid mineral audit in Nigeria.”