‘2024 allocations inadequate’ — reps panel pledges to increase mining ministry’s budget

 


The house of representatives has pledged to increase the budgetary allocation of the ministry of solid minerals development for the 2024 fiscal year.

 

This, the green chamber said, is to bolster the mining sector’s contribution to the diversification of the economy.

 

Speaking during the ministry’s budget defence session, on Tuesday, Jonathan Gbefwi, chairman of the house committee on solid minerals and development, said Nigeria possesses the solid minerals required to boost the country’s economy.

 

Gbefwi also said the sector has the capacity to attract foreign exchange (FX) and substantially contribute to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP).


“In the 70s, the solid minerals sector was accounting for over 50 percent of contributions to the GDP as against today where it is only contributing a meagre 0.65 percent to the GDP,” the lawmaker said.

 

“All hope is not lost, especially because President Bola Tinubu re-echoed the priority the present administration has placed on the solid minerals sector.

 

“It is quite exciting to know that the helmsman of the ministry has hit the ground running by embarking on strategic bilateral and trade expeditions that will bring the needed investments into our country.”

 

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However, Gbefwi said his enthusiasm about the impending revamp of the mining sector was dampened when received the 2024 budgetary estimates of the ministry.

 

According to the lawmaker, the estimates for the 2024 budget are grossly inadequate to make any significant impact in the very critical sector.

 

The committee chairman, therefore, pledged the house of representatives’ resolve to not only substantially increase budgetary allocations to the mining sector, but also work with the executive to institutionalise reforms through the requisite legislative framework.

 

Meanwhile, during his presentation, Dele Alake, minister of solid minerals development, restated the commitment of the federal government to diversify the nation’s economy through solid minerals.

 

Alake said at least 44 economically viable minerals have been discovered, adding that the imperative of sanitising the sector and providing an enabling environment for mining operations can not be overemphasised.

 

“When you do a comparative analysis of the countries that survive on solid minerals in today’s world, they are numerous and some of them don’t have the minerals as much as we do, but because we have had free flow of money from oil, we behaved like the prodigal son and abandoned that which we should have concentrated on, in the first instance,” the minister said.

 

“However, that is history. We are now at the cusp of history. The onus rests on our shoulders — ours as executive, and yours as legislature — to take our country out of the economic quagmire that it has found itself because of the self-indulgent lifestyle.

 

“That is why the ministry of solid minerals was created.”

 

To sanitise the mining environment, the minister disclosed that issues of insecurity are being tackled with inter-agency collaborations alongside the ministry of defence to create a new security architecture that will feature an infusion of a huge dose of technology.

 

Alake thanked the house committee for its commitment to partner with the ministry in ramping up the ministry’s budgetary allocations for the 2024 fiscal year.

 

He said the gesture would go a long way in boosting the capacity of the government to invest in exploration which will culminate in the generation of “big geo-data on mineral resources and consequently attract big players which would translate to immense revenue for government and economic development”.

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