By Ali Abare
According to scholars, leaders are, by definition, change makers. That when a person is called to lead, such a person is expected to lead, advance, move forward and improve the situation.
This is indeed true, particularly with the arrival on the scene of His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, who right from the onset embarked on a journey to bring about the desired change in the mining sector.
With the Mining and Solid Minerals Act 2007 vesting powers on the Federal Government to have total control of the sector, with states governments partially excluded from actively participating in the mining industry, Engineer Sule felt a state like Nasarawa, tagged the “Home of Solid Minerals” may have been unfairly treated. The state is endowed with over 55 different mineral deposits but with no meaningfully benefit benefit being derived.
Indeed, previous administrations viewed the Act as an unsurmountable impediment, choosing not to challenge the status quo. But not His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, who buoyed by his vision to industrialize Nasarawa State, saw a golden opportunity in the potentials of the state in the area of minerals. He decided to challenge the status quo.
It’s on record that Engineer Sule, at every available forum, tried to make case for states to be given specific responsibility in the management of the mining sector.
Recall that during this year’s Nigeria Mining Week, Engineer Sule, as a member of a discussion panel, made case for states to have specific responsibility in the mining sector, considering that even though the mineral deposits belong to the Federal Government, the land belongs to the state.
He argued that there is conflict of interest as the state is presently giving agriculture the desired attention, with land being set aside for commercial agriculture. However, responding to this call, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, declared that mining activities takes precedence over agriculture.
Indeed, for Engineer Sule, the situation surrounding the mining sector, deserves more than a fleeting attention as he singlehandedly picked up the gauntlet to agitate to bring some level of sanity in a sector previously replete with enormous challenges.
The agitation for more collaboration between critical stakeholders in the mining sector has even become necessary when considered against the backdrop of the dwindling federal allocation to states that continue to grapple with mounting development challenges. For Engineer Sule, it has become necessary for Nasarawa State to begin to look inward and to discover ways to generate internal revenue in order to be able to meet up with the yearnings and aspirations of the people.
This is even more so, considering the Governor’s desire to place Nasarawa State among the ten top revenue earners in the country.
As recognition of his passionate insistence for states to be recognized and be accorded specific responsibility in the mining sector, only recently, the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, , Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, visited Engineer Sule at the Government House to seek closer collaboration with the states with a view to harmonizing revenues coming from the mineral sector.
A new dawn is coming to the country’s mining sector and all thanks to His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule. The Federal Government said it’s handing over total control of the mining sector to states.
Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance declared this at a retreat for critical stakeholders in national planning and development strategies on Monday.
The retreat jointly put together by the Senate Committee on National Planning and Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, was aimed at achieving common consent on the way forward for the country’s development.
This indeed, is sweet music to the ears of the citizens of Nasarawa State, particularly for Engineer Sule, who since his assumption of office, has taken it personally to challenge the status quo obtainable in the mining sector.
Stakeholders at the retreat, reached a unanimous agreement that a strong, all-inclusive and sustainable national policy that would guarantee active involvement of government at all levels, was needed to address diverse socio-economic problems faced by Nigeria at the moment.
The permanent secretary assured that the reliance of state governments on monthly allocation from the Federal Government would soon end, given that certain aspects of resources control are currently being addressed.
According to him, the emphasis at the National Economic Council (NEC), is the diversification of the economy such that states would become self-sufficient without relying heavily on the allocation from the federation account before they can execute some of their agenda.
He added that a committee headed by Kayode Fyemi, chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, has begun preparation of a plan that will bestow full control of solid minerals in Nigeria on states.
Abare is a Special Assistant on Media to His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule.