Spokesman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council, Mr Charles Aniagwu, has said the party’s presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, would collaborate with states of the federation to revamp Nigeria’s mining sector.
Speaking on “Focus Nigeria” on AIT Policy Dialogue with the theme “Ending Illegal Mining in Nigeria”, Aniagwu said Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, were very clear that industrialisation and exploitation of mineral resources would be given priority in their administration.
Aniagwu said the PDP administration would collaborate with stakeholders in the mining industry, particularly the states, to make the sector work for the good of the country.
He said it would not augur well for the Federal Government to sit down in Abuja and grant licences through the Ministry of Solid Minerals to an individual without determining the quantity of the particular mineral resource in the place.
“In doing so, Atiku-Okowa recognised the provision of the Minerals Mining Act of 2007 particularly Chapter 1, Part 1 which states very clearly that ownership of solid minerals is vested in the Federal Government and this means the Federal Government is saddled with a whole lot of responsibilities including the implementation of the Act,” Aniagwu said.
“But Atiku says that in doing that, he is going to collaborate with states just as he has also said that he will devolve powers so that in granting licences to determine who should be involved in mining activities and how such products will be marketed, that the states should be carried along.
“It is not enough to collect royalties for licences without determining the quantity of deposits in that environment, Atiku said he would not operate like that because it will not give value to the Federation.
“Atiku believes that just the same way Petroleum products is giving us resources and helping us run our economy, the same way solid minerals should be able to play a very critical role and for that to happen, key stakeholders must be critically involved to perform their roles to ensure the success of the sector.
“When the states are involved, it will be easier to properly police the environment and deal with the issues of insecurity surrounding mining activities in the country.
“When the states are involved in registering or licencing those involved in mining activities it will be a win-win situation for the person mining, the state where the resources is deposited and the Federal Government that is vested with the ownership of the product,” he said.
Aniagwu, who is also Commissioner for Information in Delta State, said before the discovery of oil, Enugu used to be called the “Coal City”, Jos “Tin City” and Lokoja had a lot of iron deposits.
He said for the country to generate enough revenue from the sector, there must be a correct data of the solid minerals in the country.
“Atiku-Okowa will implement the laws, bring in reforms such that at the end of the day the Federation is totally involved and not leaving it in the hands of the artisanal miners alone.
“Beyond the mining, Atiku will also bring industrialisation to the sector to ensure the country benefits from the entire solid minerals value-chain.
“All of these would be taken care of in the Atiku-Okowa Presidency by industrialising the sector and improve the nation’s earnings from the solid minerals industry,” he said.
Aniagwu said that Atiku-Okowa have the political will to implement the 2007 Mining Act and so review the provisions of the Act to accommodate changing realities adding that the law would catch up with anyone not licenced and proceeded to mine what belongs to the Federal Government.
“Anybody who does not have a licence and who is not entitled to go into mining automatically will be treated as a thief,” he stated.
The PDP Presidential Campaign Spokesman further said there would be a proper policing of what people are mining, what they are selling and the value the Federation is going to get so that the miner as a businessman is not going to operate at a loss, the Federation that owns the mineral will not also operate at a loss.
“We have in our policy document clearly stated how we are going to revitalise the solid minerals sector and get it to begin to play very critical role in contributing to the nation’s GDP.
“A situation where government depends only on mining licences and the little money they get from the sector is not good enough for a country seeking additional revenue to fund its infrastructural deficits.
“We are going to be much more interested in the quantity of the deposits and the ability of such companies to be able to mine and exploit the solid minerals and we are also going to be involved in understanding the value-chain in addition to industrialising the sector,” Aniagwu added.