Minister’s Statement On the Deployment of Newly Appointed Zonal and Federal Mines Officers

Protocols and Introduction

Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari, the Minister of State;
Mr. Mohammed Abass, the Permanent Secretary;
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

I am pleased to make this short statement on the occasion of this very important milestone in our efforts to reposition this ministry to deliver on our mandate of effectively regulating the Nigerian mining sector in Nigeria.

May I start by reiterating that the mining sector is central to the objectives of this administration to diversify our economy’s revenue base and to create jobs and economic opportunities for Nigerians. Consolidating on reforms in the sector over the past years, the Federal Government of Nigeria is focused and determined to provide a transparent, predictable and workable regulatory and policy environment that will encourage the deepening of investments and the optimisation of our mining value chains. We remain committed to delivering a more sophisticated mining sector that will bring about prosperity and sustainable development for all stakeholders.

Historically however, our mining sector has been stunted by – amongst other factors – unbridled corruption and inefficiency in the regulation of mining operations within our borders. Our ministry is always inundated with reports from states and local government authorities; traditional rulers; and other government agencies, of how wanton illegal mining is carried out across the federation, mostly by informal operators with the active connivance of unpatriotic Nigerians.

This is particularly worrisome considering the huge toll that unregulated mining operations have on our country. Illegal mining destroys the environment, the health and well being of the people and leaves in its wake tales of sorrow, tears and blood. Sites of illegal mining are known to harbour all sorts of vices including drug abuse, child labour and sexual exploitation. Our environment is hugely degraded exposing vulnerable communities to environmental and health hazards. We are all losers for it if this situation is left unchecked – except off course for the few – very few beneficiaries of the rape of our land.

Ladies and gentlemen, I assure you that this administration will not fold our hands and watch this situation go on. Our efforts in repositioning the sector will be futile if we do not develop the requisite institutional capacity to effectively monitor mining operations across the country. Accordingly, as part of steps being taken in this regards, following extensive consultations with other government entities – particularly our security agencies – last week we ordered for the immediate recall of federal mines officers at the state and zonal levels across the country. Today, we are taking a further step to deploy a new set of mining officers to these field positions across the country.

We have taken efforts to carefully select this new set of officers, who all come highly recommended for their high sense of patriotism, dedication to duty, and professionalism. The ministry has taken necessary steps to ensure these officers being posted to the fields are well equipped to deliver the tasks for which they are being commissioned today. I am pleased to inform you that the ministry has recently acquired a new set of vehicles appropriate for rough terrains, which are being allocated for the use of our officers in the field.

We realise that the variegated nature of Nigeria’s terrain poses a huge challenge, with large swaths of desert land, rain forest, riverine and mountainous regions. Nigeria also has thousands of kilometres of borders which pose a huge challenge to monitor. We will however ensure the officers receive the necessary training and tools to function effectively and efficiently. We have gone to great lengths to create the enabling environment to enable them succeed and will continue to do so.

I am also pleased to offer this ministry’s assurances that we have facilitated the necessary linkages with other crucial stakeholders in this task. We have elicited the assurances of the support of the Ministry of Environment – especially your operational counterparts in the field; Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, all our security agencies; our host state governments; the traditional institutions and communities’ leaders. They all ready to work with you to help you succeed and I encourage you to liberally cooperate with them and amongst yourselves.

In the coming months, a crucial next step for this ministry will be the inauguration and operationalisation of our ‘Mining Surveillance Officers’. We will soon engage and deploy over 20,000 operatives into the fields to strengthen our regulatory operations across the country.

As you are today being commissioned, I will like to use this opportunity to emphasise the following:

1.    All officers must abide by the code of ethics of the Civil Service which emphasizes honesty, discipline,   dedication, loyalty, efficiency, transparency, effectiveness amongst others at all time.

2.    Maximum attention must be given to matters relating to procurement, transportation, storage and usage of explosives at all times as all of you will be held responsible should there be any diversion of explosives to unauthorized person(s) in your different states of jurisdiction.

3.    As Zonal or Federal Mines Officers you are required to ensure total compliance by the operating mining/quarrying companies, explosives manufacturers, explosives importers, Oil and Gas Servicing Companies and other End-users of Explosives with the provisions of the Explosives Act of 1964 and Explosive Regulations of 1967 and other extant policy directives.

4.    As a way of curbing the temptation to procure explosives through unauthorized means, all applications submitted to you on explosives matters must be processed with adequate attention paid to total compliance by the applicant with set requirements and your recommendation on such applications forwarded within three days of receipt to the corporate Headquarters of the Ministry.

5.    In the light of the current security challenges, recommendations on such applications from the North-East, North-Central, South-South and South-East Zones should be addressed directly to the Honourable Minister while those from South-West and North-West Zones should be addressed to the Director, Mines Inspectorate.

6.    Any officer who deliberately recommends an application that is defective to the Headquarters of the Ministry shall be considered to be inefficient and shall be dealt with in accordance with the stipulations of the Civil Service Rules. Experience has shown that the major delay in granting approval to Companies on explosives transactions is due to this major factor.

7.    Under no circumstances should you or any other officer under your supervision receive cash as a mode of payment for any service by the operating Companies in the Mining Industry. The search light of the Ministry, the law enforcement agencies and other accountability Institutions will be beamed on you and you can rest     assured that any officer found to have sabotaged the Country in any form shall be summarily dealt with.

All payments to the Federal Government on services provided by this Ministry should be paid by the Companies directly to the Treasury Single Account (TSA).

8.    Effective Mines Surveillance and monitoring should be carried out at all times to ensure Mines Health and Safety and most importantly payment of correctly assessed royalties to the Federal Government.  All of you are advised in your own interest to refrain from negative corrupt tendencies.

9.    An often neglected aspect of your job is the need to ensure that all monthly explosives returns and quarries returns submitted by the operators are checked and confirmed that such returns provide answers to the questions contained there-in.

10.    Henceforth all Companies – Mining and Quarrying – operating in your various jurisdictions should always forward a copy of the monthly explosives and quarry returns to the Corporate Headquarters first week following the month for which return is made.

11.    Monthly revenue returns should be rendered by the Accountant with relevant attachments to the Director, Finance and Account (DFA) first week following the month for which return is made. In the interim the Zonal or Federal officer in the State where there is no accountant should take up this responsibility pending the time an accountant will be posted.

12.    Available reports indicate that most of you don’t even stay in your state of posting.  My candid advice to you all is to drop this attitude as absence from duty without permission is punishable by dismissal under the Civil Service Rules and shall be so applied to any erring officer.

13.    Be assured that efforts are being made by the Ministry to provide required logistics and running capital and capacity building to enable you perform effectively well. While outstanding job performance shall be adequately rewarded, the Ministry shall not turn a blind eye to inefficiency and dereliction of service.

Let me end by warning in very clear terms, that any officer found wanting in integrity and professionalism will be appropriately investigated and sanctioned in line with civil service regulations if indicted, and where relevant, the ministry will not hesitate to hand over such deviants to the appropriate authorities to face the music.
I hope you will justify the confidence reposed in you. I wish you God’s speed in the discharge of this crucial national assignment.
Thank you.

Dr. Kayode Fayemi, CON
Minister
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Abuja, Nigeria