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Senate summons Alake, threatens zero allocation in 2024 budget 

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The Senate on Wednesday summoned the Minister of Mines and Solid Minerals, Mr. Dele Alake, to appear before its Committee on Solid Minerals next week Wednesday.

He is expected to brief it on the Federal Government’s work plan to develop the sector and block illegal mining.

The panel berated Alake, for allegedly disregarding all invitations so far sent to it since he was appointed by the President.

The Committee resolved, during its meeting and expressed dissatisfaction about the failure of the Minister to appear before it

The panel said Alake was fond of giving excuses that always gave excuses of travelling with President Bola Tinubu.

The Committee expressed concerns that the minister had abandoned his primary duties of bringing the mining sector to international repute.

It stressed that Alake was relatively inexperienced in the sector and had further created a crowdy future for the yet-to-be-explored wealth.

The Committee, therefore, threatened to give zero allocation to the Ministry in the 2024 fiscal year, if the minister failed to amend his ways, to start responding to the invitations of the Committee.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Sampson Ekong, who issued the summon at the meeting, maintained that his panel would ensure the right legal frameworks that would bring a positive turnaround to the sector.

Ekong pointed out that accountability and transparency would be the watchword of the Committee.

He noted that the Bitumen bill sent to the Committee would be expeditiously processed and presented to the Senate for passage and onward transition to the President for assent.

He said, “The Nigerian solid minerals and extractive industry is very vast and grossly under-taped.

“God in his unquestionable benevolence has blessed Nigeria with huge mineral deposits.

“However several factors have continued to hamper the sector. The sector has the potential of contributing significantly to our economy.”

Ekong also pointed out that the 2021 contributions of the solid minerals sector to Nigeria’s GDP stood at 0.63 per cent.

He said, “The performance, though, an improvement when compared to previous years where it contributed 0.45 per cent in 2020 and 0.26 per cent in 2019, is still negligible and disappointing considering the humongous potentials therein.”

The committee chairman expressed concerns that the low output had been attributed to the over 90 per cent of the activities of the mining industry were dominated by artisanal operators.

He said, “Nigeria is blessed with over forty identifiable minerals in varying commercial quantities.

“Developing the solid minerals base of the country can offer the Nigerian economy the much-needed diversification it has been yearning for.

“Our vast solid mineral endowments should be utilized to drive prosperity for all Nigerians, not abused to fuel insecurity, exacerbate economic dislocation and opportunity theft.

“We will through this committee, vigorously explore trajectories for our solid minerals to generate revenue meaningfully for the federal government and help strengthen our economy.”

Senator Onawo Ogoshi, representing Nasarawa South Senatorial District, suggested that the “Committee should give zero allocation to the Ministry of Mines and Solid Minerals in the 2024 fiscal year if the Minister continued to ignore the Committee.”

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