STAKEHOLDERS in the mining sector, on Tuesday converged in Abuja, and called on the Federal Government to focus more on strengthening sector governance with a view to fully realising its economic diversification plan through the sector.
They further urged government to tackle issues such as geoscience data, illegal and unauthorised exports of minerals, illegal issuance of mining licence by some State Governments, defaulting in the payment of taxes and royalties and multiple taxation among others.
They spoke through different presentations at the opening session of the inaugural edition of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development (NCMMRD), which started yesterday at NAF Conference Hall, Abuja.
The opening session which was chaired by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mohammed Abass, was attended by the State Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries of Mining Ministries, officials of the Federal Ministries of Environment, Justice and Defence, scholars, operators and representatives of financial institutions and host communities.
The stakeholders were of the views that strengthening the sector governance would enable government to manage the available mineral resources and compete favourably in the global mineral and mining market.
Speakers included renowned Geologist and Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Professor Shehu Ibrahim Garba; Director, Artisanal and Small Scale Mining, Mr Patrick Ojeka; Mr Ebhota Al-Amin of the Mining Research/Policy Development of the MinDiver Office; Director, Mines Inspectorate, Engineer K.F. Wuyep; as well as Professor Peter Akper of Equity Law Partners; and the Immediate Past President of Nigeria Mining and Geo-science Society (NMGS) /Chairman of Mining Implementation Strategy Team (MIST), Professor Gbenga Okunlola.
They said government needed to do more in the area of enforcement of existing laws and strengthening of institution so as to achieve excellent result, believing that Nigeria has well structured mining laws.
In his presentation, the Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Professor Garba, urged the Federal Government to ensure that MIRENCO was put to work
Also, Mr Al-Amin of the Mining Research/Policy Development of the MinDiver Office, said mining has not been able to contribute meaningfully to the GDP because a good percentage of export in the sector remained unrecorded.
He therefore urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to be more involved in exportation of minerals, as it was done in other mineral-rich countries.