Mining: Senate summons minister, threatens zero budget for non-performing agencies

The Senate, Friday, summoned the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, over poor regulation and loss of revenues in the sector.

This is as the upper legislative chamber, through its joint committees on Finance, National Planning, Gas Resources, Petroleum Upstream and Downstream, fixed N15 billion as target revenue for Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (NMCO) in 2022 as against N4 billion proposed by the agency.

The joint committees also threatened zero budget allocation in the 2022 fiscal year for any revenue generating agencies without clear cut revenue profile or targets.

The minister as summoned as a result of failure by Director-General, NMCO, Engineer Obadiah Nkom, to furnish the committee with explanations on low revenues being generated in the sector and the menace of illegal mining across the country.

The DG had in his submissions before the joint committees said that in N2.58 billion revenue was generated and remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), which reduced to N2.3 billion in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic but already increasing in 2021 with N3.166 billion realised as at July this year out of the targeted N4 billion.

Not satisfied with the submission, the committee chairman Senator Olamilekan Adeola (APC Lagos West), and other members, wondered why such an agency could not generate revenue beyond the threshold of N4 billion and N5 billion.

“Your submissions on revenue generation is low and not impressive at all because big companies like Dangote Cement, BUA etc, with combined yearly profits of about N5 trillion are under your purview.

“These are aside other companies carrying out illegal mining activities across the country that are not captured in your revenue generation.

“A lot of Chinese are involved in illegal mining in the country without your agency or any other one saddled with regulation of the sector , doing anything as far as licensing them and monitoring their explorations in form of collection of royalties are concerned,” Adeola stated.