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‘Only dedicated agency can drive mining sector like NNPC in petroleum industry’

Expert in development planning, Dr. Ken Igboanugo, has argued that the federal government will continue to shortchange its huge revenue from mining sector so far it continues to turn its back in creating dedicated agency to focus and drive the development of the sector.
In an interview, he said “Until an economic restructuring that will create one or two agencies to be in charge of developing the mining sector like the NNPC, DPR, NOSDRA etc., revenues meant for the government will continue to rest in the pocket of faceless but powerful individuals”.
“I recall few months ago, when the new broke that Nigeria is losing over N100bn in gold racketeering in parts of the north and up till now, nothing has been done to block that leakage.
“I have been finding it very hard to understand why the federal government upon realizing that mining remains a key revenue earner, has not found it important to create the needed agencies to coordinate investments and regulate activities, rather a whole ministry that is preoccupied with running the ministry is suffocating self in regulating the mining sector.
According to him, “There are strong indication that because several politically exposed persons (PEPs) in the north are behind illegal mining deals, present federal government may find it hard to do the needful which is creating agencies and departments to regulate and drive the sector.
Only recently, trending news report revealed that Nigeria loses about $3bn annually to illegal export of gemstones.
Stakeholders in the mines and steel industry under the aegis of the African Gems and Jewellery Exhibition and Seminar (AGJES) at a press conference in collaboration with the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in Abuja agreed that time has come to rescue the sector with tailored agencies and departments than jam parking mining development in the ministry.
They argued that current status quo creates more rooms for corruption and poor tracking of developments in the sector while foreigners collude with powerful locals to bleed the economy using bandit illegal miners.
According to the spokesperson of the group, Mrs Jummai Oluyede, “Nigeria is endowed with abundance of precious and semi-precious stones that have the possibility of fetching billions of dollars on the world market such as sapphire, ruby, aquamarine, emerald, tourmaline, topaz, garnet, amethyst, zircon amongst others.
“Experts in this field have said that copper bearing tourmalines, for instance, which is a rare form of tourmaline found in Oyo State, can fetch up to $5,000 per carat in the international market. Therefore, gemstones business is a big income generator through which the country should be making good money.
“We in AGJES wish to reiterate our desire to see the end of the era of producing and shipping out raw materials from the country and urge miners to set up processing plants and machinery in order to add value and create wealth for themselves and jobs for our teeming youth.”
Though the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mrs Georgina Ehuria, said it was important to stem the tide of revenue losses in illegal export of gemstones, but was mute on how that could be possible after all.