Group seeks dissolution of minerals fund board

The Progressive Miners Empowerment Association (PMEA) has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to dissolve the newly constituted board of the Solid Mineral Development Fund (SMDF). The board was constituted in February to fast-track development in the mining sector. The association, which could not give a reason for the call also requested for the re-constitution of another board, while expressing fears of the security of the fund under the current board.

The PMEA National President, Mr. Sunday Ekozin, at a briefing in Abuja recently, said, “We are making a patriotic appeal to the president to look into the constitution of that board, and also focus on the mining sector as major means of economic sustenance and job creation.”

The establishment of the Fund, which is in pursuant to the provisions of the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act 2007 saw last month in Abuja, the inauguration of a-7 member Board chaired by Mr Utsu Linus by the Minister of Mines and Steel Mr. Musa Mohammed Sada.

The Fund is expected to develop both human and physical capacity in the sector; funding for geo-scientific data gathering; storage and retrieval to meet the needs of private sector led mining industry; equipping the mining institutions to enable them perform their duties; funding extension services to small scale and artisanal mining operators; and provision of infrastructure in mines land.

The minister did not disclose how much money was provided for the running of the fund. He, however, pointed out that the fund will be operated on the basis of appropriations for solid mineral development under the Revenue Act or any other federal law.

He also said the fund will be financed by federal government budgetary allocations; fund received as grant, donations, foreign loans, bonds and long term swaps. The fund is also expected to work with sums appropriated for solid minerals development under the Small and Medium Industries Equity Investment Scheme (SMIEIS).

Sada said, “The inauguration of the Board of the Solid Mineral Development Fund (SMDF), is therefore a fulfillment of the target of the sector under the transformation agenda. We have as a follow up measure, developed a consistent programme implementation to represent the roadmap for all development action in the sector.”

Reacting to the development, the Chairman of the board, Mr Utsu Linus, thanked the President and the minister for the privilege to work on the board. He also thanked the international partners present and pledged the commitment of all the board members.

“The Solid Minerals sector has started contributing to the GDP of the nation. The recent NEITI Audit Rreport on solid minerals confirmed financial flows to government of over N54 billion between 2007 and 2010, from quarries, small scale miners and cement manufacturing firms. It is also known however that the performance of the sector is grossly under reported,” he noted.

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