To accelerate development of Nigeria’s mining sector, stakeholders have advocated the need for better synergy between the federal and state governments in the issuance of mining licences.
They made the call Thursday in Abuja during the launch of a report titled; Improving Transparency and Governance in Nigeria’s Mining Sector, by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). The report is one of the many advocacy tools and paper series by NEITI in providing solutions to extractive sector issues.
Speaking at a panel session, Special Adviser to Ogun State Governor, on Forestry, Natural and Minerals Resources, Mr. Babatunde Ajilole, noted that licencing conflicts between states and federal government is a big headache for investors.
He said the federal government must begin to involve the states in the process of granting mining titles to resolve these conflicts and encourage more investments in the sector.
Although the law states that mineral deposits anywhere in the country are federal resources, but a lingering conflict exists between the federal and states government over how mining titles should be issued. State government often disregard licences issued by the Mining Cadastre’s Office, the federal government agency tasked with issuance of mining titles, and insist that investors re-apply for licences at the state level.
Also speaking, the President, Miners Association of Nigeria, Mr Sani Shehu, emphasised the need for the involvement of the states in the issuance of mining licenses.
However, he observed that for that to happen, the law on mining, which gives the federal government exclusive right over mineral resources, has to be amended. “We have to be innovative in governing the sector, the states have to be more involved, that will enable them make money and also control the activities of miners in their states,” Shehu said.
He said major and minor mining companies shy away from Nigeria because the country has peculiar risks. “There is the issue of the lack of infrastructure, which is a big challenge,” he said.
He added that there is also the issue of poor inter-agency cooperation, where one government agency prevents contractors or investors who have been duly licenced by another agency, from commencing work. If these issues are not addressed, he said, mining companies will continue to shun Nigeria and invest in places with more favourable business conditions.
Speaking earlier, Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio, said the policy instruments being published by NEITI is intended to provide both policy makers and industry managers with information they can work with.
He stressed that the ultimate aim is to reverse resource curse by ensuring that Nigeria translates it vast potentials to revenue.
“We have potentials but having potentials is not enough, potentials don’t by itself translate to revenue. Based on where we are now, Nigeria needs other income streams… That is why NEITI is going beyond lamentations to providing solutions through bringing perspective about what needs to be done,” Adio said.
The report which was presented by Prof. Gbenga Okunlola, emphasised the need for government to create a more conducive stakeholder’s participation, attractive conditions for mining Majors to return and support Juniors to access credit for capital equipment.
The report also stressed the need for government to consolidate operations of artisanal and small scale miners, improve transport and logistics infrastructure, establish critical marketing infrastructure and incentivise state governments to participate in mining operations, maximise benefits to mining communities and prioritize security.