By Edith Ike-Eboh
The Executive Secretary, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, has decried low revenue contributions from the solid minerals sector to the economy.
Orji made this known in a statement signed by Obiageli Onuorah, NEITI Head, Communications and Advocacy.
He spoke while playing host to members of the Executive of the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) led by its President, Alhaji Kabiru Muhammed.
“From findings of NEITI’s audits reports, mining sector currently contribute less than one per cent to the country Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“This is unacceptable, considering quantum and variety of minerals resource spread all over Nigeria.
“We are aware that the sector is dominated by artisanal and small scale miners, and we have advised government through recommendations contained in our reports to devise means to formalise operations of this category of miners to enable them contribute to the development of the sector and the economy.
“I am aware that this process has commenced by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and we need this to be hastened,’’ he said.
He described the activities of illegal minerals buying centres across the country as major revenue leakages to government, adding that the action remained worrisome to NEITI.
Orji pledged to work with MAN and other key stakeholders in the sector by sharing information and data to ensure that all the leakages were plugged.
He said one major area of interest of NEITI was to explore all possible avenues, including partnership and collaboration with organisations like MAN to improve government revenues from the solid minerals sector.
On tracking of revenues meant for development of the solid minerals sector, Orji assured the association that NEITI would pay more attention to the issues.
“We are going to track either local or foreign funds meant for the development of mining sector.
“We are also going to advocate equitable and judicious application of such funds.
“NEITI will look into the inflows and the management of the solid minerals development fund. We want the fund to be accessible, useful and timely available to the end user,” he said.
Orji described the visit of the association as timely, considering insinuations by some stakeholders that over the years, NEITI’s operations had been skewed in favour of the oil and gas sector.
“So far, we have conducted and published a total of 10 cycles of audits covering the period 2007 to 2019 in the solid minerals sector.
“Our audits essentially tracked and reconciled revenue payments by companies to government, ensuring that companies pay what they ought to pay and government received what it ought to receive”, he noted.
Earlier, Muhammed congratulated Orji on his appointment, noting that NEITI and MAN had come a long way as natural partners with common interests in the growth and development of Nigeria’s mining sector.
He commended NEITI for its work of deepening transparency and accountability in the sector.
Muhammed urged the agency to track all funds meant for the development of mining sector, including periodic audits and performance of such funds.
He called for the involvement of MAN in the programme and activities of the agency. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)