FEC approves N987m for purchase of 50 vehicles to curb menace
â‰ â‰ ÃŸÂº Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Nigeria lost a whopping $9 billion to the export of proceeds of illegal mining activities between 2014 and 2015, the federal government disclosed yesterday.
Making this disclosure at the end of weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting which was held in the conference room of the Office of the First Lady in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the $9 billion loss in the sector was contained in a recent report by the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
In governmentâ€™s bid to curb the menace of illegal mining and increase revenue accruable to government coffers, Fayemi said FEC approved N987 million for the purchase of 50 Toyota Hillux vehicles at the cost of over N19 million per one for deployment towards the monitoring and curbing of illegal mining in 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to Fayemi, the bulk of the significant increase of 8.97 per cent in the contribution of agriculture and industry to gross domestic product growth (GDP) in the third quarter of 2017 as released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last Monday came from mining and quarrying activities.
Fayemi who said the $9 billion loss was recorded mainly from the illegal export of gold, lead, tin and coal, added that the council consequently approved the memo he presented to it pursuant to the approval of the constitution of Special Mining Surveillance Task Force with the mandate to monitor and curb illegal mining across the country.
He said the approval was sequel to the realisation that the deployment of one vehicle per state could not make significant impact in the monitoring of illegal mining activities.
He also disclosed that the task force will be made up security personnel deployed from all security agencies including the Nigeria Police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Department of State Services (DSS), National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the office of National Security Adviser.
Further disclosing that the police had established mines police to support the initiative, Fayemi said consequently, a mines police commissioner had been appointed by the Nigeria Police and similar office has also been created in NSCDC.
He also said once illegal mining is put under control, there will be a significant contribution from the sector to the countryâ€™s GDP as well as an increase in government royalty and job creation for the teeming populace.
The minister who said governmentâ€™s ultimate goal was to deploy technology to monitor illegal mining, also noted that federal governmentâ€™s initiative on mines and steel development will involve the collaboration of federal and state governments through the setting up Mineral Resources and Environmental Committee as provided for in Mining Act.
He also said the memo presented to the council also included moves to formalise small scale mining and artisanâ€™s mining which he said was preceded by the earlier deposit of N5 billion in the bank to assist small scale miners and artisan miners. He said this would also involve the advent of a cooperative society.
In his own briefing, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, said the council also approved NN606.31 million for the payment of the contractor who executed an irrigation project in the FCT.
According to Adamu, the Ajara-Jere irrigation project which he said was completed since 2008, was meant to supply water in the FCT from Gurara Dam to lower Usman Dam over a distance of 75 kilometres with three metres diameter pipelines.
He said in the last nine years since the project was completed, the maintenance of the project had been left in the care of the contractor. However, he said since last year, the government had been working hard to take over the management of the pipelines which he said were strategic in the move to supply water to Abuja.
However, he said the N606 million approved by FEC yesterday would enable the government to pay off the contractor and take over the management of the project by both the personnel of ministry and FCT.
Also briefing, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said the council was updated on the activities of Presidential Enabling Business Environment Committee (PEBEC) following the recent movement of the country 24 places upward in World Bank doing business report.
He also said the council was updated on second National Action Plan which he said would involve the mobilisation of ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) the need to do more and achieve greater success in ease of doing business in Nigeria.
Enelamah also said the plan would include the expansion of the scope of ease of doing business beyond Lagos and Kano to all states of the federation adding that the move would be aided by an â€œomnibus billâ€ before the National Assembly. He described the bill as an all encompassing bill that will address the constraints faced on doing business in Nigeria.
He said PEBEC was given approval to continue with its good work with integrated operationalisation plan on transparency.
He also said a compendium compiled by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and National Export Promotion Council (NEPC) on all incentives available for investors willing to do business in Nigeria was presented to the council.