18 February 2016, Abuja—The House of Representatives, yesterday, called on the executive to utilise the N350 billion Natural Resources Fund, NRF, as a finance window for the development of the solid mineral sector.
The House in a resolution on a motion sponsored by Danlami Mohammad Kurfi, mandated its Committee on Solid Minerals Development to investigate the position of the fund and report back to the House within six weeks for further legislative action.
Kurfi in the motion, entitled: “Urgent need to address the utilisation of the N350 billion Natural Resources Fund, NRF, as a finance window for development of the solid mineral sector,” explained that the Natural Resources Development Account was created in 2002 to develop alternative mineral resources, with a view to reducing the nation’s over-reliance on oil.
The lawmaker recalled that in the 1970s, mining contributed over 10 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, noting with dismay that in recent times, the sector contributed 0.3 per cent to the GDP and that the NRF was never accessed by the solid minerals sector, though the funds in the account were utilised.
He said the country’s mining potentials were too critical to be ignored, adding that there was the need for a presidential intervention to harness the huge potentials for the socio-economic development of Nigeria. Kurfi disclosed that the total accrual to the account between 2002 and 2012 was about N873 billion, while utilisation stood at N701 billion, leaving a balance of N172 billion by the end of 2012.
According to him, between 2013 and 2014, N159.6 billion was contributed to the fund, thereby making the outstanding balance to be N350 billion. He expressed the concern that between 2013 and 2015, money was continuously withdrawn from the fund but without any single project in the solid minerals sector funded with the money.