The Senate at the weekend slammed the Director-General of the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, Obadiah Nkom, over poor revenue generation.
This was even as it said the activity of illegal miners was leading to a great loss of the nation’s revenue.
The joint Senate committees working on the 2022-2024 Medium-Term Expenditure and Fiscal Strategy Paper made its position known following the failure of the Director-General of the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, Obadiah Nkom, to furnish the committees with required explanations on the low revenues being generated in the sector and the menace of illegal miners across the country.
“A lot of Chinese are involved in illegal mining in the country without your agency or any other one saddled with regulation of the sector, doing anything as far as licensing them and monitoring their explorations in form of collection of royalties are concerned.
These are apart from other companies carrying out illegal mining activities across the country that are not captured in your revenue generation’’.
Nkom had in his submissions before the joint committees said in 2019, N2.58bn revenue was generated and remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
He said the amount reduced to N2.3bn in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but that it had already started increasing in 2021 with N3.166bn realised as of July this year out of the targeted N4bn.
Obviously not satisfied with his submission, the Chairman of the joint committees, Senator Olamilekan Adeola, and other members, wondered why the agency could not generate revenue beyond the threshold of N4bn to N5bn.
Adeola said, “The revenue generation is low and not impressive at all because big companies like Dangote Cement, BUA and others, with combined yearly profits of about N5trn, are under your purview.
But in a bid to shore up the country’s N13.58 trillion 2021 budget, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr.Olamilekan Adegbite, had last March, announced plans to commence a bid licensing round for bitumen fields across the country.
He disclosed the plan during the first quarter webinar series organised by the Institute of Change Management (ICM) with the theme: ‘‘Unlocking Opportunities In Disruptive Times: The Mining Sector as the Game Changer for Nigeria.
Adegbite said the bid round process has been slated to commence between June and July in the four bitumen rich states of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Edo.
Already, he disclosed that companies in Canada, Europe and other parts of the world had already indicated interest to explore the bitumen potential in these States.
The Minister said a particular village in Ondo where the bitumen is already coming to the surface and sacking the entire community, as farming and other agricultural activities are already being negatively impacted.
He said government has already spent a lot of money on exploration works in the states and wouldn’t want to give out the licenses for free, hence the decision to auction them to interested entities.
Adegbite disclosed that interested bidders would be given access to the data report from where they could signify their choice bitumen field. He said the bid process would be carried out and opened in a transparent manner with licenses given to the highest bidders so that they can start mining bitumen without further delay.
The Minister assured that within the next one year, successful bidders would have commenced mining on the fields, thus making Nigeria self sufficient in bitumen resources. ‘‘In the next one year, Nigeria should have stopped importing bitumen but rather exporting same to neighbouring countries, thereby helping the country to conserve foreign exchange” he said