One fundamental move by the current government to curb financial leakages in the mining sector is its effort to create a mega regulatory agency as a means of tackling the incessant leakages that has led to huge economic losses to the government and the sector.
Recently, the minister of mines and steel development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, re-echoed the government’s position while presenting the ministry’s score card, emphasising that the establishment of the mega regulatory agency would comprise the existing mining cadastre office,the mines inspectorate, artisanal & small scale mining and mines environmental compliance departments, as contained in the approved roadmap.
Kayode said , “This new agency coming on board will have the full independence and powers to effectively regulate the industry in a much more transparent and efficient manner, in keeping with global best practices.
“We have decided to merge all our regulatory agencies such as the mines inspectorate division, mines and environment compliance, mining cadastre office as we think these multiplicity of regulators create confusion.”
He added that “we will also be doing a lot on special mining zones, mines that have either been abandoned or have been exploited in a wrong manner and we are likely to also have what used to be the mining cooperation, we believe it can really still be relevant, but not in the form that it used to be. This is because we don’t want to run any company but we still think it can be an investment holding vehicle for the ministry in the event that we want to enter into partnership. We also think some equity will solve some mining operations for the country.
According to the the minister, these are some of the things that government would be doing in 2017, in order to meet job creation and revenue generation objectives.
Meanwhile stakeholders in the sector have said they were yet to be fully briefed on the mandate and functions of the mega regulatory agency and therefore, could not speak for or against it.
Commenting, senior geologist with KCM Mining Limited, Samuel Alabi, said he could not speak on the mega regulatory agency, expressing surprise at what must have inspired the need for it.
“Is it that those that were charged with the responsibility were not performing? what we need is to see how it goes, we need to taste and see before we can praise or condemn it yet,” Alabi said.
Also speaking, the president, Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Alhaji Sani Shehu said, “ I don’t know anything about the mega regulatory agencies, I can hardly form an opinion on it, because we are just hearing of the possibility, but we have not been briefed on its mandates and functions, until that is done, we do not know what to think or say but as it is, we know nothing.”
In his own views, Prof. Clifford Teme, opined that the establishment of a mega regulatory agency was a very good thing as it would bring sanity to the system.
Teme added that the establishment of the agency would help government realise most of the monies going to illegal miners in the sector.
The mining expert urged Nigerians to properly monitor the activities of the agency to stop all the leakages that had been known to pervade the sector.