Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government has constituted a Joint Task Force to protect miners and mining sites to tackle kidnapping and illegal exploration, across the country.
Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Uchechukwu Ogah, stated this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Elias Mbam, in Abuja, also announced the setting up of Cooperatives for artisanal miners to block financial leakages,
In a statement he said: ‘The Ministry has put measures in place to block revenue leakages, as well as organize the artisanal miners into Cooperatives with a view to curb illegal mining and ensure that the right revenue is derived from their operations. Also, he said a Task Force made up of security agencies is in place to ensure security for miners and mining sites across the nation.’
Ogah noted that mining could provide 23 per cent employment if properly funded and appealed to the Commission to increase the Natural Resource Fund from its current 1.6 per cent share from the Federation Account in order to get needed fund to develop the sector and attract investment in minerals like coal that is laying fallow in some states.
According to him, the meeting was to deepen the existing collaboration between his ministry and the Commission, disclosed that the minerals and metals sector is very critical in achieving the diversification of the economy and poverty alleviation bid of the Buhari administration, but noted that the sector needed more funding to develop required infrastructures that would attract investment.
Meanwhile, Mbam requested that the ministry should involve the Commission’s staff in the state offices in monitoring mining activities and revenue collection in states, saying information obtained from such exercise would help give the Commission right data to work with.
He suggested that a Joint Technical Committee between the Ministry and Commission be set up to harmonize all revenue collected to ensure such revenue get paid into the federation account.