NEITI Wants Nigeria to legalise Illegal Mining

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Orji Ogbonnaya

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The Nigerian Extraction Industries Transparency Initiative wants the Nigerian government to legalise illegal mining in the country and tax them accordingly to generate revenue

| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb 1, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT |

THE Nigerian Extraction Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, is canvassing for an end to illegal mining. It is also asking the federal government to put an end to the phenomenon by legitimising all illegal miners spread across the country. Orji Ogbonnaya, acting executive secretary, NEITI, said the organisation wants an enabling environment to make the works of illegal miners look legitimate so that they can pay taxes.

He said the current status where illegal miners dominate the sector, could no longer be ignored. Ogbonnaya stated this when the management team of NEITI paid a courtesy visit to Kayode Fayemi, minister of solid minerals. “We have spoken to the minister on illegal mining. They call them illegal miners but we in NEITI call them artisanal miners. If we chase them away, they come back. They dominate the sector. They can no longer be ignored so we are looking at how, as has been done in countries like Ethiopia to find an enabling environment to make their work look legitimate so that they can pay taxes because we have only 65 companies that are covered in the solid mineral sector.

“But in the field they are more. Many of them do small businesses. If you tax those small businesses, it will create a lot of revenue. We are aware of the enormous work that has commenced in the ministry. We feel it is important that NEITI visits the ministry to share information and data that will help the ministry in the ongoing reforms. We are aware that the oil industry globally is in crises and most countries that depend on oil are looking inwards for alternative means of survival and the solid minerals ministry in our country is better positioned. We reached out to the minister to share with him on the job we have done and how the solid mineral ministry can help alleviate the pressure that the government is going through currently as a result of the crises in the oil industry,” he said.

Responding, Fayemi said in the face of the dwindling fortune in the oil and gas sector, the country clearly had to look for alternative source of revenue in the country. “This is a government that is completely focused on transparency in every sector, not just the extractive industry. It is just that the extractive industry happens to be a major focus because it is a major revenue earner for our country.

“In the face of the dwindling fortune of the oil and gas sector, we clearly are looking at alternative, revenue sources for the country and alternative employment opportunities for our people. Some of the work presented really points clearly on what we really have to do in order to increase the level of resources available in the country. You have managed to expose in your report the hidden revenue that is being generated that is not recorded either in our inland revenue sources or ministries royalties that is clearly going to assist us as we move ahead in our policy formulation strategy.”

Fayemi had on Wednesday, January 13, said that state governments now have rights to explore and exploit mineral resources in their domains provided such is done legally without interfering with locations already given to other stakeholders.

“That is one of the points I have tried to emphasise about governance when people talk about the 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.”

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