By Juliet Ukanwosu
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development have committed to strengthen their collaboration with a view to ensuring growth across the sectors value chain.
This was agreed upon during a meeting between the NEITI management, led by the Executive Secretary, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, and the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, in Abuja.
Dr Orji who led the NEITI Team on a courtesy visit to the minister, informed that despite recent report showing phenomena growth in the sector, there was plenty of room for more growth and realisable revenue.
While explaining that the essence of NEITI’s work is to ensure growth and accountability in revenue from the sector, Orji said NEITI has internal capacity and data it can share with the ministry to help in its reform effort and ultimately improve its revenue contributions to the federation account and narrow government need for borrowing.
Orji explained that data sharing was important to enable both organizations work more closely in other to ensure that the revenues and contributions from the solid minerals sector are accounted for and properly attributed to the Ministry.
“I appeal to the minister to take special interests in the work that NEITI does because it will support the on-going reforms in the Ministry. When you have reliable data, it can be used to institute effective planning and governance of the sector and diversify the revenue sources of the nation,” Orji said.
Furthermore, Orji specifically requested that the Mining Inspectorate Division be more responsive in terms of sharing timely data on royalty payments to enable NEITI report more accurately revenues accruing from the ministry and plug leakages where they exist, as well as also seeking timely data sharing from the artisanal and small scale mining, research department and the mines environmental compliance departments.
While also seeking information on the Ministry’s gender desk, especially as gender has become a focal point of the EITI, Orji emphasized the need for joint training programmes between NEITI staff and the ministry’s field officers to better expose them to NEITI processes.
In his remarks, the Minister who commended NEITI for its work in ensuring transparency and accountability across the extractive sector, noted that NEITI’s visit provides an opportunity for both originations to devise strategies that will deepen their commitment to enthrone greater transparency and growth in the nation’s solid minerals sector.
He regretted that although older than oil, Nigeria lost focus on its solid minerals sector with the advent of oil age, a development he said, has essentially left mining in the hands of artisanal miners, which has resulted in the country having between 95percent to 98percent mining activities as artisanal based.
“Because of the way they work, it’s very difficult to document the activities of most of these artisanal miners. But the thrust of government has been not to discount the number but to recognize, formalize and document them,” the minister said.
On data sharing, he informed that the ministry has a very robust server which when fully deployed, following the upgrade of its infrastructure backbone, will automate its operations and processes and make data available real time.
Adegbite who noted that the ministry was on track with the implementation of its roadmap, added that he was open to joint training and retraining of staff of both organizations as often as necessary.