Nigeria: No reason states can’t be involved in mining – Fayemi

*Dr Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Solid Minerals.

*Dr Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Solid Minerals.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

17 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has urged state governments to get involved in solid minerals exploration and exploitation for the economic development of their respective states and growth of the nation in general.

Fayemi also kicked against what he considers are “residues of our authoritarian past” wherein state governments are left completely in the dark about mining operations in their states, arguing that the nation must be pragmatic, and engage local authorities, if it hopes to optimize the benefits of exploitation of its natural resources.

The Minister, who was speaking at the 52nd Annual International Conference and Exhibitions organized by the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, in Ilorin, Kwara State, noted that there is no excuse for states not to be involved in mining operations given the huge potential of the sector for job creation and wealth generation.

Fayemi said, “There is nothing in any law in this country that prohibits states from being active participants in the development of minerals endowed within their territories. As a former governor, I know where the shoe pinches government and I know the importance of this to state governments who want to increase their revenue base.

“But I also know that the law that is referred to (Section 39 of the Constitution) which puts exclusive control of mineral resources on the Federal government does not foreclose that states can get involved in mining; the law does not in any way suggest that states cannot form their own special vehicle or enter into partnership with joint venture operator in order to develop the resources that abound in their domain. That is an excuse for inaction if states say that.”

However, according to the Minister, the federal government must actively encourage states to play a part. “If anyone imagines that the minister will sit in Abuja and simply because someone has license can just enter into Share in Kwara State and start operating without some level of engagement with the local authorities, that is not right.

“I think it is a misnomer. That is not the intention of our constitution. It is the residue of our authoritarian past that is still allowing people to feel that that is what exclusivity refers to. I want to assure the governors that we need to partner.”

The Minister added that, “Since my assumption of office, I have opened up interactions with various interest groups in the sector to ensure that positive contributions are received to ensure sectorial economic growth.

“In line with this efforts are underway to encourage state governments to be more committed in participating in the development of solid minerals located in their States. Modalities for a closer working relationship between the Federal and State governments are being reviewed.

Fayemi said he has met with several governors from minerals-rich states, to reassure them on the need for partnership in the exploitation of mineral resources in their various states.

“I have also given the governors information on every license that has ever been approved for mining operations in their states. They have that information now; they can monitor and know exactly what is going on their states, and then determine whether it is something they want to be part of or not.

“The important point is that states and communities must be actively involved if we are make our quest for turning solid minerals mining into an alternative vehicle for economic development in Nigeria a success.”

About the Author