May 7, 2024

Economic Diversification: Senate begins hearing on Ngwu’s motion on solid minerals development

Senate mulls establishment of Health Infrastructure Development Agency

The Senate has commenced a three-day investigative hearing on 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.

The hearing is sequel to a motion moved by former chairman of the committee on solid minerals, and ‘now’ minority whip of the Senate, Sen. Osita Ngwu.

The red chamber would during the hearing grill major mining stakeholders over the immediate and remote causes of the dwindling revenue derivable from solid minerals development in the country.

Members of the committee will also review all the BPE privatisation or commercialization programs of all mining and mineral resources related programs from 1999- date.

Ngwu as the Chairman Senate Committee on Solid Minerals had in November, 2023 moved the motion, calling for a halt to further privatisation of mining assets until the committee concludes the investigation.

He 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, MTNDP (2021-2025/2026-2030) all identified the Nigerian Mining sector as central to economic diversification and social inclusion.

He said the Senate is 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 dismally low.

He said the Senate is also aware that the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE has been selling and is on the verge of concluding the privatisation and commercialization of all public funded facilities relating to the Nigerian mining and mineral sector, in spite of the fact that none of its privatisation programs have shown any concise beneficial impact to the mining industry as it had severally pronounced.

The lawmaker expressed concern 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.

Declaring the investigative hearing open on Tuesday, at the national assembly, the President of the Senate, Sen. Godswill Akpabio recalled that the investigative hearing became necessary as a result of a motion that was sponsored by Senator Ngwu, representing Enugu West senatorial district.

He noted that the senate in its wisdom directed its committee to go into serious findings, discuss with stakeholders and come up with comprehensive solutions and recommendations that will help not just the minister but the entire government to find a way to have additional revenue to meet the yearnings of all Nigerians that voted President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his renewed Hope agenda.

The Senate President said, “So today we are gathered here with a shared purpose, to ask a very tough questions and seek answers that will shape the future of this great nation. It is said that millions of people saw the apple fall time after time, in the ancient days, it’s only Isaac newton who in his curiosity, desired to conduct an investigation that led to the discovery of the law of gravity, many saw the apple fall, none conducted an investigation but Isaac Newton did.

“In a similar vain, we are here to investigate and ask why our national economy rely solely on crude oil. Why can’t we infuse our economy with the richness of our solid minerals that are abound the entire nation, and liberate ourselves from the shackles of oil dependence. And even liberate ourselves from insecurity caused by illegal mining.

“How can we transform our mono economy into a fully diversified economy. You’re here to make suggestions on how to improve Nigeria’s IGR. These are the fundamental questions that we must confront and address. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the committee and members for their dedication and unwavering commitment to organizing this event.”