• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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How states can overcome obstacles to exploiting mineral resources

solid-minerals

The recent utterance of Kayode Fayemi, minister of Mines and Steel Development, that state governments are now free to explore and exploit the mineral resources in their domains, as long as this does not interfere with locations already given to stakeholders, can be met through applications for grants from the Federal Government.

Lagos-based lawyer, Olu Akinola says “All solid minerals in the exclusive list, under the second schedule of the constitution, are matters on which only the Federal Government can make legislation, administer and control. However states can be given permission to exploit their resources, following some processes.”

Akinola further says, “But with the state of privatisation and private investment by grant or charter, the Federal Government can give rights to states to explore mineral resources in their state or give same rights to private companies to do so. There are now private companies that are taking oil licenses or mineral licenses to prospect just like every other sector of the economy that has been privatised.

“By state grant, the Federal Government can make a grant to a particular state for the exploration of certain minerals in the soil. Any state desiring to take that right and opportunity must meet processes set up by the Federal Government.”

Fayemi made the statement when he received Wale Oluwo, the Lagos State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources , along with his team from Lagos state to tender requests to the Federal Government.

Regarding the concern of exclusive rights, Fayemi said, “That is one of the points I have tried to emphasise about governance, when people talk about exclusivity of the mineral rights in the Nigerian constitution. Yes, it is exclusive but there is absolutely nothing in the law, in fact it is being encouraged in the law, for states to either set up their own investment corporations or go into partnership with the private sector, in order to exploit what is available to them in their states.”

States like Osun with a long history of artisanal miners who indiscriminately dig pits for gold are in contravention of the constitutional provision granting the Federal Government exclusive rights to mineral resources in their states.

Akinola states that these states have to do so under the permission of the Federal Government. Participation in exploitation of mineral resources without recourse to the  Federal Government is only possible, according to Akinola, through “an amendment of the constitution or subsidiary legislation by the ministry.”

Section of 44 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 vest the ownership and control of all minerals, oils and natural gas in, under or upon any land in Nigeria, its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone on the Federal Government.

Also, the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 that came into force on March 16, 2007 to repeal the Minerals and Mining Act, No. 34 of 1999 also vests control of all properties and minerals in Nigeria in the Federal Government, and prohibits unauthorised exploration or exploitation of minerals.

It categorically states that all lands in which minerals have been found in commercial quantities shall from the commencement of the Act be acquired by the Federal Government in accordance with the Land Use Act.

ISAAC ANYAOGU