04 August 2015, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday took on top officials of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development led by the Permanent Secretary, Baba Farouk, on illegal mining in the sector.
He described Farouk’s presentation to him that Nigeria’s mining sector had been infiltrated by “illegal aliens” who engage in unlawful mining activities as the most demoralising brief he has ever received since permanent secretaries of different ministries have been taking their turns to brief him of their activities.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement said Buhari made his position known when Farouk and members of his team briefed him of their activities at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Shehu said the President warned that the Federal Government will no longer tolerate illegal mining and other improper activities that have inhibited the growth of Nigeria’s solid minerals sector.
He further quoted Buhari as saying that the mines and steel sector was very important for the diversification of the economy, expressing displeasure at Farouk’s report that the sector had been overrun by illegal miners.
“This is one of the most demoralising briefs I have received. The biggest threat to this country besides the Boko Haram is unemployment and the mining sector is key to employment creation.
“We cannot be held back on such a strategic industry that can give us much needed jobs and promote economic growth.
“There must be more seriousness in running this country and we are determined to instill that seriousness,” the President was quoted as saying.
Shehu said at a different fora, Buhari directed the Ministry of Environment to undertake a rigorous study of Lake Chad, with a view to bringing up proposals on how best to reverse the shrinking of the lake, which currently serves as a major source of livelihood for many.
He said, after receiving a briefing on the challenges facing the Ministry of Environment, the President noted that the security and economic challenges faced by member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission could be substantially ameliorated with an improvement in the economic value of the lake.
He also urged the Ministry of Environment to take up the challenge of researching cheaper ways of sourcing energy for cooking apart from firewood.
The Permanent Secretary, Nana Mede, told Buhari that Lake Chad had shrunk considerably from the 1960s, when it covered an area of more than 26,000 square kilometers, to less than one-tenth of that size at present.