12 November 2018, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Following criticisms which arose especially online after it announced that it had expended the sum of N700 million to develop a portal to enhance ease of doing business by investors in the mining and minerals sector, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has stressed that the sum represented the money spent on a whole gamut of activities beyond just creation of a website.
In a statement issued by the permanent secretary, Mohammed Abbas, on Sunday, the ministry said it had become necessary to address the misrepresentation and to set the records straight, adding that it was “wantonly disingenuous” to claim that it spent N700 million to build a website.
It stated that “The attention of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has been drawn to news making the rounds, especially on the social media that the Ministry spent the sum of N700 million creating a website for itself. The Ministry considers it incumbent to react swiftly to this misrepresentation and to set the records straight.
“It is important for clarity to state that what the Ministry has acquired the said sum of money is an integrated IT infrastructure which comprises two Data Centres, an off-site recovery centre, civil and environmental works on the Centres, running of the Centres till end of first quarter 2018, training of over 225 officials locally and internationally amongst other cost components of the entire infrastructure and programme.
“It is indeed disingenuous of anyone to reinvent and reduce all of these into an expenditure on a website.”
It must be noted, however, that, according to the budget of the ministry approved in 2016, the sum of N795,234,275 was listed as “website update”, a fact that has been disclosed by many social media critics.
Even though the ministry has contended in a statement that it was a clerical error from the budget office, the controversy was reignited last week when the minister, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, made a joke of the misrepresentation at unveiling of the Integrated Automation and Interactive Solid Minerals Portal (IAISMP) which is a component of the expenditure.
The statement noted that “When, last Thursday, 9th November 2017, our Ministers led other officials of the ministry and sectoral stakeholders to unveil the IT Integrated Automation & Interactive Solid Minerals Portal (IAISMP), we were really fulfilling one of the short-term pledges listed in our roadmap.
“These assets form critical pillars of our agenda to reform the mining and minerals sector, particularly as a key step towards our vision to lead the sector to shared mining prosperity where we make significant contributions to GDP in the country.”
It added that, In realising aspects of this project as a turnkey solution, we have been careful to follow all laid down processes. Since the cost of implementing the project is above ministerial limits, we sought and obtained the concurrence of the Federal Executive Council after a detailed presentation in January 2017.
“In the course of the project, we have emphasised the need for stakeholders’ interface, which included a facility inspection tour for reporters and journalists who cover the sector. We have no reason to commit public resources to projects that will not advance the cause of repositioning our sector and we believe that we did everything to intimate the general public about our activities in this respect.
“For the records and for public information, our IT Integrated Automation & Interactive Solid Minerals Portal (IAISMP) project has the following key components: Feasibility assessment, needs analyses and re-engineering of the IT processes within the ministry, departments, and agencies;
“2nos data centres (a fully equipped on-premises centre within the ministry and another off-site centre for recovery and real-time backup in case of emergency), also covering civil and environmental works; Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution and Electronic Document Management System (eDMS) solution—Microsoft Dynamics AX: Financials, Supply Chain, Business Intelligence, Human Capital, Procurement (license and maintenance).”
It added that other components of the project include Basic and advanced IT (ERP & eDMS) and GIS training programmes for 200nos staff of the ministry and its agencies. Already 75 officials have been trained in Abuja; GIS capacity building for 25nos management and lead technical staff with Esri; Wide Area Network at the ministry’s headquarters and all its 10 agencies (including back up internet, disaster recovery hosting and DR site internet—installation and initial one-year subscription);
Others are: ” Procurement, supply, and installation of a GIS laboratory with 20nos computer systems; Building of GIS Web Portal with Business Automation System, Content Management System (CMS), Decision Support System and SideStream along the minerals corridor;
“Reordering and re-organisation of available geological data in the sector into geospatial database; Online Mining Licensing and Mineral Title Application with tracking system for openness, transparency, and accountability in compliance with global EITI standards for the extractives sector;
“Online payment (royalties and fees) and blocking of revenue leakages by integrating/interfacing with Remita, GIFMIS and relevant revenue generating MDAs of the government; Enterprise ArcGIS Solution license and maintenance for GIS Mining and Assets Management;
6.13. On-site project management and execution staff (26nos), including operationalisation of the project management office for upward of 10 months. Project staff to remain on-site until end of Q1-2018; Procurement, supply and installation of various project equipment, complete with civil works; Collaborative tools and help desk; and, Strategic Communications.”
According to the statement, “It is most important to state that acquired IT infrastructure, in all its ramifications, is an enabler of the serious work at repositioning the sector. For us, this is never an end in itself but a robust attempt to ease how the regulatory-cum-administrative systems interface with mining operators and stakeholders everywhere.
“It is noteworthy that only this past October , the Mining Journal’s World Risk Report, which rated different mining jurisdictions on a range of indicators including legal, governance social, fiscal and infrastructure indicated that Nigeria is showing notable improvements in positions. In the two years that we have methodically and deliberately introduced reforms implemented a roadmap, our sector now has better perception, lowered investments risks and improved opportunity index.
“The import of this assessment, in light of the World Bank’s Report on the improved status of our country towards ease of doing business, cannot be far-fetched. Ours is a modest effort to consolidate the overall efforts of the Federal Government at increasing opportunities in other sectors of the economy.”
It added that the ministry has done “repeated due diligence to ensure that the implementation of the project does not only meet expected design but also fits into globally recognised systems and further help us to place our jurisdiction on the mining map. A phased approach has been adopted, with incremental deliverables which should be fully completed by end of first quarter of 2018.
“We continue to be open to checks and to present ourselves to public scrutiny. We want to assure all Nigerians that we do not take lightly the confidence reposed in us or in our government nor would we do anything to undermine our reputation under whatever guise.
“We come from a tradition of commitment to service and honour in the handling of all our public service roles. In superintending over this project, we are confident to declare that we have not let the ball down, therefore it is wantonly disingenuous for anyone to reinvent and reduce all of these into an expenditure on a website.”