19 June 2015, Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari must rescue the solid minerals sector from the cabal that has held it hostage for nearly two decades, if the new administration is to unleash that industry’s huge potentials.
According to him, “one of the major challenges of the sector has been that a cabal has taken that industry hostage and has disallowed it to develop enough to make the appropriate contributions to the economy of the nation.
“This cabal has been responsible for deceiving successive governments in the past and has pocketed various funds provided by the Federal Government and development partners, including the World Bank. Rather than developing the sector, those involved have only enriched themselves at the detriment of the miners and the solid minerals sector.”
Ekozin declined to name members of the cabal but said that many of them were those who occupied various government offices with the mandate to develop the sector in the interests of the Nigerian economy.
Some of those holding down the sector, he revealed, had allocated to themselves as many as 100 to 200 mining licences which they then hawk through cronies, while denying genuine miners access to the fields.
He said contrary to the claims by some stakeholders in the industry, funding was not the problem of the sector, as according to him, several hundreds of billions of Naira had been released by both the Federal Government and development partners but that only about N1.7 billion had been realised by the Federal Government in terms of royalties over more than 20 years.
The Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, NEITI, puts the figure at about N2.2 billion.
Ekozin described the situation in the sector as akin a situation that required emergency actions on the part of President Buhari, if he was to realise the change he promised Nigerians in his campaign.
The Progressive Miners’ Empowerment Association boss said the sector provided low-hanging fruits from where the new administration could realise N1 trillion annually if President Buhari paid it the deserved personal attention as the Nigerian constitution has vested the administration of solid minerals on the President of the federation.