Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Musa Mohammed Sada
By Patrick Ugeh
As the World Bank rounds up its seven-year assistance worth $120 million for the sustainable development of Nigeria’s solid minerals sector, stakeholders are playing Oliver Twist. They are clamouring for an extension of the project to enable a second phase to start as soon as possible.
One of the project objectives is to establish a basis for poverty reduction and rural economic renewal in selected areas of the country through the development of non-farm income-generating opportunities through small-scale and artisanal mining and to diversify from oil sources of income.
The second is to increase the government’s long-term institutional and technical capacity to manage Nigeria’s mineral resources in a sustainable way.
At the end of project stakeholders’ workshop in Abuja, Minister of Mines and Steel development, Mr. Musa Mohammed Sada, said: “The view of the ministry is that the SMMRP (Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project) is closing at a wrong time in that government is not quite ready for disclosure. The World Bank intervention needed to continue till the opportune time when government will be in a position to take over seamlessly and build on project achievements.”
He stated that as mining was very capital-intensive, government was taking its time to operationalise the Solid minerals Development Fund as provided in the Solid Minerals and Mining Act 2007.
“The sector also requires adequate funding from annual appropriations to the level that donor support will no longer be required,” he said. “Until we reach a comfortable level for the sector, we believe that the World Bank assistance will still be needed. Accordingly, we hereby make a case for SMMRP Project II to enable intervention (in) some other critical areas in pursuit of solid minerals development, as a stop gap to keep momentum and forestall collapse of the lofty achievements of SMMRP”, he said.
He however gave the verdict that the project achieved its purpose and expressed his appreciation to both committees of the National Assembly on Solid Minerals Development for the “wonderful support” they accorded the project and the ministry at large. He also thanked the World Bank for making all its achievements possible.
Among the achievements were the use of $10 million dollars from the $120 million for micro-grant as a poverty alleviation scheme targeted at artisanal and small scale miners and mining communities, with 245 mining cooperatives benefiting, and the upgrade of the National Geosciences Researches Laboratory, which it supported with state-of-the-art facilities.
The World Bank fund was also used in the promotion of Nigeria’s minerals endowment, revision of Geodetic Network and Cartographic Coverage, environmental management capacity building programmes and train the trainers’ course in governance, accounting, finance and taxation in the mining sector.
The project also facilitated the establishment of the Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences, geological information gathering for investment and national planning; and training and capacity building contents under which the World Bank Project trained 10,000 Nigerians from both public and private sectors in various components of the sector.
Similarly, it engaged in the provision of field vehicles, civil works and technical equipment for the ministry and its agencies as well as the development of selected minerals for import substitution and provision of livelihood in mining communities.
The project also undertook baseline data collection, provision of legal and regulatory framework and administration of mineral titles through the establishment of the Mining Cadastre Office which is fully equipped for the transparent and efficient grant and management of mining titles, in line with international best practices.