By Adedapo Adesanya
The Senate on Tuesday gave clearance to a bill for an Act seeking to establish the Nigerian Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) to pass its second reading.
The bill, sponsored by Mr Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from Nasarawa South, is aimed at increasing investments in the mining sector.
In his lead debate, Mr Al-Makura said next to agriculture, the solid mineral has the potential to help Nigeria diversify its economy away from its current monolithic nature if effectively managed.
”As part of this administration’s effort towards the diversification of the Nigerian economy, one of nine priority areas is stabilising the macroeconomy by strategically diversifying Nigeria’s economy from being a mono-product economy to the productive development of various sectors of the economy,” he argued.
“Next to agriculture, the solid mineral sector has been identified as one with the potential to compete and eventually replace crude oil as a major source of foreign exchange earnings,” the former Governor of Nasarawa State submitted.
He said despite being blessed with an array of precious minerals including gold, bitumen, coal, uranium, ruby, metallic ore; all the resources remain largely untapped.
The Senator argued strongly that the establishment of the Nigerian Solid Mineral Development Corporation (NSMDC) will help Nigeria address the infrastructure deficit, tackle the challenges of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and also create job opportunities.
“It is expected that the establishment of the NMDC will urgently address the challenges of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) currently facing state Government in Nigeria, as it would provide the much-needed revenue to deliver on the administration’s priority areas of infrastructure development; social inclusion and poverty reduction, industrialization and job creation for the citizens of Nigeria”.
According to the bill, the initial take-off grant for the corporation is to be drawn by way of a sovereign guarantee covering the sum of Five billion Naira. This will cover all operation including all initial capital and operating expenditure.
The Federal Government will pay 70 per cent equity contribution while the institutional investors shall pay their respective equity participation to the corporation to make up the remaining 30 per cent.
“Subsequent funding of the NMDC will then be through the Nigerian Mineral Development Fund (NMDF) to be managed by the corporation strictly in accordance with international best practices.
The bill enjoyed overwhelming support and across political divide from the Federal lawmakers.
In his contribution, the Senate Leader, Mr Abubakar Yusuf noted that the bill is very important to the actualization of a major item on the legislative agenda of the 9th Senate.
Mr Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central) also backed the establishment of the Corporation describing it as a bold move and the missing link in the management of Nigeria’s solid mineral resources.
Mr Muhammad Sani Musa (APC, Niger East) also supported the bill, stressing that apart from expanding the Nigerian economy, it will check illegal mining and tackle insecurity in the country.
According to Mr Musa, miners are responsible for many of the attacks in the country.
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