By Our Reporter
Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule has said categorically that no state Governor wanted to change the ownership of solid minerals, which is the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government.
Engineer Sule made this known while playing host to the Minister of Steel and Mines Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, who was on a courtesy call at the Lafia Government House, on Thursday.
According to the Governor, Nasarawa State does not want to be the owner of the solid minerals found in the state.
“We want to leave it to remain the way it is, under the control of the Federal Government. All that Nasarawa State needs, and that’s the same way all my colleagues, I strongly belief, also wish, is that we don’t need to have any control of it but we just need to know what is happening,” Engineer Sule said.
He stressed that the state cannot continue to claim that it’s the Home of Solid Minerals, without even knowing what’s happening in the solid minerals industry.
Engineer Sule asserted that Nasarawa State has the potentials to be one of the wealthiest states in the country but that it is yet to know what’s happening to its God given wealth in terms of solid minerals.
The Governor welcomed the initiative by the Federal Government, through the ministry, to seek collaboration with the states, local governments and communities where mining activities take place, with a view to sanitizing the mining sector.
Engineer Sule commended the Minister for already carrying out the responsibility of a committee that came into being following interactions between the Governors and the Minister during a session of the National Economic Council (NEC), aimed at reviewing the control of the mining sector.
“The bottom line is, we just want to keep the status quo, it belongs to the Federal Government, being controlled by the Federal Ministry but the states can be carried along,” he stated.
Commenting on the plan by the Ministry to reach out to informal miners across the country, with a view to organizing them and enhancing their productivity through equipment leasing and knowledge sharing, Engineer Sule said even if that was the only thing the Minister would achieve, it would have been a tremendous achievement in the mining sector.
While acknowledging that the state is open and willing to partner and collaborate with the Federal Government, the Governor noted that If only the Ministry can achieve the leasing support, it will solve the entire problems of the sector.
Engineer Sule expressed concern however that with states like Nasarawa, which has abundant mineral resources like zinc, lead, tin and barite among others, yet the country still imports barite for use in the nation’s oil industry.
“We are one of the states with the highest percentage of barite yet we are importing barite and bentonite for our oil industry. This is uncalled for,” the Governor told the Minister.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Arc. Adegbite said they were in Nasarawa to explore possibilities of collaboration, cooperation with the state government, to make sure that mining is taken to a further height.
According to the Minister, President Muhammadu Buhari has foreseen the end for the use of fossil oil and as such has mandated the ministry to seek to diversify the country’s economy, towards moving away from over dependence on oil and gas.
The Minister stated further that the President specifically wanted the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to use the mining sector to diversify the economy, create employment for the people, as well as bring much needed revenue to the coffers of the Federal Government.
“And part of that mandate, is to ensure that mining takes place in every nook and cranny of Nigeria, in the proper manner that benefits everybody. So it’s not skewed in any direction,” the Minister said.
The Minister disclosed plans by the Federal Government to reach out to informal miners that constitute 80 percent of miners in the sector, through equipment leasing as well as training, in order to carry out mining properly that will be beneficial to everybody.