Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, on Thursday, said the ministry was implementing policies and programmes geared towards revamping the sector to an enviable position.
The position, according to the minister, the ministry held before the discovery of crude oil, when Nigeria was one of the 8th mining nations of the world.
Dr Ogah stated this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Engineer Elias Mbam in Abuja.
A statement authorised by Director of Press of the ministry, Mr Edwin Opara, and made available to newsmen in Abuja, quoted the minister as saying that the meeting was to deepen the existing collaboration between his ministry and the commission.
He disclosed that the minerals and metals sector is very critical in achieving the diversification of the economy and poverty alleviation bid of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The minister said the ministry has put measures in place to block revenue leakages, as well as organise the artisanal miners into cooperatives with a view to curbing illegal mining and ensure that the right revenue is derived from their operations.
Dr Ogah further said a task force made up of security agencies is in place to ensure security for miners and mining sites across the nation.
He noted that mining could provide 23% employment if properly funded and appealed to the commission to increase the Natural Resource Fund from its current 1.6% share from the federation account in order to get the needed fund to develop the sector and attract investment in minerals like coal that is lying fallow in some states.
In his response, the Chairman, (RMAFC), Engineer Mbam, affirmed that the ministry is critical in the diversification of the economy and assured of the commission’s commitment to partner with it.
He requested that the ministry should involve the commission’s staff in the states’ offices in monitoring mining activities and revenue collection in states, saying information obtained from such exercise would help give the commission right data to work with.
The chairman further suggested that a Joint Technical Committee between the Ministry and Commission be set up to harmonise all revenue collected to ensure such revenue get paid into the federation account.