Nigeria's Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr. Dele Alake, has appealed to the House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals to increase the 2024 budget allocation from the current N24 billion to N250 billion.

Alake made this call on Wednesday while appearing before the committee, adding that such an increase in allocation will enable the ministry to contribute at least 50% of the country’s GDP.

According to the Minister, the value of mineral deposits in Nigeria is around US$700 billion, but the country is yet to unlock the sector's full potential due to bottlenecks and other obstacles.

  • What we have is N24 billion and that is a failure. For this ministry to contribute at least 50 percent of the country’s GDP, we need the sum of N250 billion to take care of exploration. If we receive that amount of money, I can tell you that the ministry's contribution will surpass that of other ministries, including what we get from oil.
  • “Conservatively, the value of mineral deposits in the country is more than 700 billion dollars. They have not yet been commercially exploited due to institutional bottlenecks.
  • “With the right investment, the country could become a center for solid minerals”, he pointed out.

Speaking further, Alake noted that the government cannot leave the exclusive responsibility of mineral exploration to the private sector alone.

According to him, Nigeria has about 44 viable solid mineral deposits in the country, which are in high demand globally.

  • “We cannot leave exploration in the hands of the private sector. If we do this, they will keep part of the date for monetary purposes.
  • “We can return trillions to this country’s coffers as revenue if we are given the proposed budget,” Alake added.

Influential Nigerians behind illegal mining in the country

Furthermore, the Minister also stated that well-connected Nigerians are providing support to illegal miners, leading to increased incidents of banditry and insecurity.

He stated that illegal miners found at mining sites have very powerful Nigerians supporting them. The minister, however, said that the government is making efforts to identify these individuals.

  • “One discovery we made is that many of these insecurities and banditry associated with this sector are sponsored by illegal miners.
  • “These are not your artisanal miners. It's not people who collect gold from the ground. These are heavy and powerful individuals in our country. They are Nigerians and not foreigners.
  • “Yes, you can see foreigners as symptoms, but they are not the basics. Nigerians are the powers behind the foreigners you see on the streets. We are identifying them and employing several strategies, both kinetic and non-kinetic.
  • “The non-kinetic with the artisanal miners… I gave them an ultimatum to form cooperatives because all Nigerians have the right to life and necessities, and if the government cannot provide those necessities, we cannot push them into the Bush”, Alake said.

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