• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Insecurity, poor regulation threaten Nigeria’s solid minerals potential

Stakeholders in the Nigerian Solid Minerals Sector have decried the impact of insecurity and poor regulation on the sector, stating that it may hamper the country’s effort to attract needed investments.

According to the panellists who spoke on the topic: ‘Government participation in boosting investment’ at the BusinessDay Solid Minerals Conference held in Abuja on Tuesday, there was a need for the government to create an enabling environment to attract investments into the sector.

For Kayode Falasinnu, the chief executive officer of Ava Capital Group, the rising cases of insecurity across the country pose a huge setback to exploration activities.

According to him, investors, before investing in any country make an effort to ensure their investments are safe. This, he said, was a prerequisite for investment.

“Investors need the assurance that rules won’t change in the middle of the game. And what we’ve seen so far is we have not seen strong prospects. What we have seen is that most mining activities are carried out without the regulatory authorities knowing and without enforcing the rules, so we need an enhanced regulatory system.

“Also, another extremely important point is the need for community engagement and social responsibility. In that location where you have mineral resources, investors should be made to know the importance of investing and engaging the community, employing people and paying your ground rent. Because when a community feel exploited, they may take to arms.

“If mining will be done the right way, it is so important that community engagement issues are taken seriously. We need also to ensure that the environment is protected from harm and degradation as a result of mining activities,” he said.

For Malami Uba Sa’idu, the president of the Nigeria Geological Society, the sector currently lacks the presence of professional advisors, as most trained miners have left the profession to accept other jobs. This shows a lack of clear direction regarding engagement with the mining sector.

He said, “There is a human capacity gap in the sector and that is what we push out to confront. We have seen that in other climes there are institutions and exams for accreditations, for competence, there are standards and templates for importing minerals that are acceptable and have the integrity to pass the test this financial institution.”

In her remarks, Amina Sijuwade, counsel at ADVOCAAT Law Practice, stressed the need for reforms that could scale up regulations, capacity building and community development.

She also said there was a need for devolution of powers and benefits of the mining activities to state and local government levels.

“The problem in government has always been poor implementation of policies. And for the mining sector, it is currently underregulated, and many of the players do not have the capacity required,” she said.