IRKED by the recent revelation by Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Ahmed Lawan, that the N700 billion meant for the development of Nigeria’s solid mineral sector had been diverted into other frivolous uses, the Miners Association of Nigeria has urged the committee to facilitate the refund of the funds.
At a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, National President of the association, Alhaji Sani Shehu, remarked that the disclosure at the Senate hearing confirmed the concern of several stakeholders that successive administrations in the country had been paying lip-service to the strategic need to diversify the nation’s economy.
He added: “Apart from the mind- boggling disclosure on the floor of the Senate, our association has noticed with grave concern the discrimination in budgetary allocations to the solid minerals sector in favour of other non-oil sectors such as agriculture, water resources and tourism.”
Shehu added: “In the 2012 budget, N289.77 billion went to agriculture, N39 billion was allocated to water resources, while solid minerals got a paltry N14.90 billion.”
He noted that while both agriculture and water resources had benefitted substantially from the resource intervention fund, no single solid mineral project was funded through the intervention fund.
He added that the discovery of oil and the oil boom had been the country’s bane in the last years, giving rise to socio-economic woes including the current restiveness in some parts of the country.
Shehu lamented that most of the states rampaged by crisis in the North such as Jos (Plateau), Kaduna, Zamfara, Yobe, Borno and Bauchi states, are well endowed with mineral resources.
Speaking further, Shehu noted that the availability of mineral resources nationwide and its development was capable of creating jobs, promoting infrastructural development in rural areas and automatically leading to the acquisition of technical and management skills by Nigerians.
He regretted that the developmental aspiration of the country such as the need to diversify the economy from oil and gas, poverty alleviation, employment generation, industrialisation and power-generation have been held in abeyance due to the long neglect of the critical mineral resources sector.