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Ex-mining agency DG: Staff in mining ministry don’t understand laws of the sector

A mining truck A mining truck

Ibrahim Garba, former director-general of the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (MCO), says one of the challenges of the mining ministry is the lack of staff who understand the laws guiding the sector.

Garba spoke on Monday while featuring on ‘Good Morning Nigeria’, a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) programme.

He said the country is not rich in mineral resources, urging Nigerians to remove the perception that it is.

Garba also said Nigeria’s dependence on petroleum suppressed the growth of the mining sector.

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The MCO ex-boss said activities of illegal mining are prominent in Nigeria because the sector is not implementing the laws to deal with such activities.

“What is bedeveling this sector in Nigeria is total ignorance and poor perception of the sector. This is a business sector that is supposed to be driven by science and technology and of course, all ingredients needed to make a business flourish but we have missed the understanding,” Garba said.

“First of all, many of us don’t understand the science of mining and mineral. Botswana is now the leading country in Africa with the highest GDP from mining and Botswana is relying only on diamonds.

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“Ghana is a gold producing country, Ghana’s pride is gold and look at Ghana’s GDP contributing seven percent to the GDP of Ghana. We don’t have to have plenty. In fact, we don’t have the plenty.

“Mining itself as an industry has changed over the last five decades, it is no longer the mining industry that we knew six years ago. The resources are even more scanty than before because a lot of resources that we were mining before have all been exhausted.

“Before the 1972 revolution when government nationalised businesses in Nigeria, the mining sector was contributing very well to the Nigerian economy but what was the reason, 100 percent private as the government was only giving regulation.

“Nigeria cannot afford to be left alone and we cannot do it our own way, it is not possible. The world has changed and we must follow the trend and now we have a modern mining law, a good policy but we fail to implement unfortunately.

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“I can assure the minister, let him call his ministry staff and ask them to quote a section of the law and see whether they understand what that law is saying and that is the problem.

“We have a document that we don’t read, we don’t implement it and we keep blaming policy, policy is not the issue, it is just like every other matter in Nigeria.”

Garba urged the new minister “to sit back and look at the law” in order to address the challenges of the mining sector.

Recently, Dele Alake, minister of solid minerals and development, proposed a programme to help Nigerians study modern mining practices in Western Australia to enable the transformation of the sector.

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