Human Rights

Nigerian Government approves N987m to curtail illegal mining activities

The Nigerian government has approved the sum of N987 million for the purchase of fifty patrol vehicles by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, to enhance surveillance on illegal mining activities across the country.

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi disclosed this while briefing Journalists at the end of this week’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Minister said the activities of illegal miners must be curtailed in order to further consolidate on the gains already made in the mines sector, which is presently contributing a lot to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product GDP.

Dr Fayemi said: You will recall that in the roadmap that the Federal executive Council approved last year, there is a provision for the establishment of a Special Mines Surveillance Task Force. The memo we presented to Council today request for an approval for the procurement of 50 Hilux vehicles for the special mines surveillance patrol to capacitate them in their work to monitor and curb illegal mining activities in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja and approval was given for the sum of N987 million for the purchase of the vehicles at a unit price of N19.3 million per vehicle.

The Minister noted that because a vehicle will not be enough to do the job in each state, technology will also be deployed to assist the Task Force, in order to achieve the desired result.

The Council also underscores the fact that only one vehicle per state cannot solve all the problems but in order to begin to tackle the issues we need to start from somewhere and ultimately the goal is to ensure that we deploy technology to monitor the illegal activities of miners across the length and breadth of the country, he said.

Dr Fayemi announced that in order to further enhance the job of the Special Mines Surveillance Task Force, which comprises of representatives of all the security agencies, a Police Commissioner has already been appointed to be in charge of the mines unit.

Over the course of the last one year, the Police has re-established Mines Police and we now have a Police Commissioner in charge of the mines unit. We also have a Commandant from the National Security and Civil Defence Corps also exclusively deployed for mines activities because if we can stop the spate of illegal mining activities; not just by Nigerians but Nigerians in collaboration with some foreigners we would significantly improve the revenue that comes from that sector, increase the contribution to GDP, increase the royalty to government and also provide more jobs for our people, he stated.

Irrigation Project

While also briefing Journalists, Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu said approval was given for the Ministries of Water Resources and that of the Federal Capital territory to take over the management of Azure-Gira irrigation project.

He said the sum of N606.31 million was approved t ay off the contractor of the project, who had managed it for the past nine years.

The project was initiated to supply water primarily from Gurara dam to lower Usman dam by a distance of 75 kilometres with a three nester diameter pipeline. This project was completed in 2008 but since then no effort was made to discharge the contractual obligation after the obligatory maintenance period and no efforts were made to take over the project either by the Ministry of Water Resources or the FCT Administration. So we have been working since last year to take over this pipeline in particular because it is very strategic and it is meant to augment water supply during the dry season in Abuja. We believe after construction, it doesn’t make sense for the project to remain in the hands of the contractor for another close to 10 years now without our taking possession and being responsible for the operation and maintenance of the pipeline.

In the memo we proposed that after negotiations the contractor will be paid a total sum of N606.31 million for the eight or nine years it has been maintaining and operating the pipeline and for another company that has to do with the training of our own personnel to take over the responsibility for the pipeline. Before then we had negotiated through the office of the National Security Adviser, wherein we have 24 hour surveillance of the pipeline because of the strategic importance of the pipeline to Abuja. The memo was approved and in the next 12 months we would have prepared our own personnel to take over the operation and maintenance of the scheme and for the contractor to totally disengage from the project site after 10 years, he said.

A minute silence was observed by the Council at the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting in honour of former Nigeria’s Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, who died on Sunday.

Source: Voice of Nigeria