Abuja – The Miners Association of Nigeria on Thursday urged the Federal Government to address inter-agency rivalry among the parastatal agencies over statutory duties, to ensure smooth operations.
Mr Sani Shehu, the President of the association, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Shehu said the inter-agency rivalry had affected the activities of its members who suffered double taxation.
He said the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) saddled with the statutory responsibility on waterways, had ventured into taxing the sand raiders from water.
“NIWA collects tax from our members raiding sand from the water which should not be, because there is a department in the Solid Mineral Ministry saddled with the same responsibility.
“Sand is part of minerals; we are not comfortable with government agencies extorting us, we are filling the pains and we are confused over who should collect tax,’’ he said.
According to him, the Ministry of Environment is also exercising its authority over the department of environmental compliance of the Ministry of Solid Mineral Development in some areas.
Shehu urged government to re-organise the operations of the ministry of solid mineral with adequate funding, adding that it had professionals that were not being utilised due to financial challenges.
He called on government to strengthen the data collection capability of the ministry, to better inform investors on the availability of minerals in the country.
“The sector must be able to convince investors that minerals are available; data generation process is a continuous process and it is capital intensive; the burden of mining lies on government in all mining nations,’’ he said.
According to him, the Republic of Congo injects huge capital on mining exploration, adding that government must earmark funds for exploration and additional data generation.
He also urged government to support local miners with funds to acquire equipment for mining, noting that small scale miners constituted 90 per cent mining activities in Nigeria.
“The value and volume of what they mine must be a priority to the government because most of the industrial minerals are mined by small scale miners.
“Since we have industrial minerals as raw materials, the local industries or manufacturer must use them instead of importing; most of the industrial minerals we have are not fully utilised.’’
He said government should discourage the importation of raw materials that could be sourced locally, adding that such supports would assist miners to acquire more minerals to meet local demands.
He also advocated for the sensitisation of communities, states and local governments to appreciate their institutional limit in the areas of control of solid minerals.
“The sensitisation will reduce conflicts sometimes being observed among the miners, communities, state and local governments.
“The miners are business people; they are into mining to make money and if burden and demand is too outrageous, whereby they cannot breakthrough, they may leave the profession. (NAN)