Mines and Steel ministry remits N3B to Federation Account in 2018 – Minister

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Abubakar Bwari, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development
Abubakar Bwari, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development

The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development said on Thursday that it had so far remitted about N3billion to the federation account, this year.

Abubakar Bwari, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development disclosed this at the 2018 Steel Summit at Ikeja, Lagos.

The theme of the summit was: “Diversification of the Nigerian Economy: The Indispensable Role of the Steel Industry’’.

He said that in the last three years, the revenue generated by the ministry had improved drastically.

“When we came in, in 2015, our contribution to the federation account was just merely N700million, in terms of royalties, but today we can proudly say we have gone above N3billion.

“The National Bureau of Statistics says it was the attention that has been given to the steel sector that has kept it growing. Even under recession, we are not there yet but we believe we will get there,’’ he said.

According to him, the increase is as a result of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration that has implemented appropriate policies and the required political will.

“Before the Buhari administration, the Ministry was remitting about N700million because the then administration had no political will to implement policies that would drive infrastructural development to boost the ministry’s operation and revenue.

“These policies were there, the raw materials were there but no political will; we now have a government that has the political will and wanted to diversify and we have realised that we have only depended on oil all along.

Bwari commended the Federal Government for focusing on the steel industry, adding that it would generate revenue and create employment for youths.

“For any country to industrialise, you need to develop the steel sector. Nigeria is now focusing on diversification and in its agenda, solid minerals is one of the key areas the government is paying attention to.

“In solid minerals, you have the steel sector and for us to have called for this summit underscores government’s commitment to develop the steel sector.

“Nigeria has the market, unfortunately we are spending a lot of money bringing in related materials, and currently, we are importing about 4.6 billion worth of steel materials into the country.

“Considering the availability of the raw materials we have in iron ore and others, Nigeria should not be importing steel products as the nation is now refocusing on these key sectors to create jobs for our youths and to generate more revenue,’’ he said.

The Minister, who said that one of the challenges the Ministry was facing was transportation, noted that when it is effectively tacked, it would ease the costs of transporting the materials.

“Our challenges are more of infrastructure, we need railways we need ports that can accommodate the kind of volume that will make a meaningful impact.

“We need better roads that can accommodate the kind of traffic that will come with this kind of development.

“We need power, and we are trying to look at our coal sector to see how we can work together,’’ he said.

Bwari said that the country was blessed with minerals like Lead, Zinc and Lithium, which are used to produce electric cars.

“We now have electric cars and there are some minerals that will contribute, especially lead, zinc and lithium.

“Lithium can play a very significant role in the new technology for cars and we have it in Nigeria, so all we need now is to do more of its exploration.

“That is why government has committed N4.2 billion into exploration and we are going to also do exploration in lithium, iron ore, gold and other minerals that will help us develop our country,’’ he said.

Mr Umar Hassan, Director-General, National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, Kaduna, said that most of our steel plants rely in their design on imported materials.

Hassan, who spoke on: “Local Steel Raw Materials as a Sustainable Means of Crude Steel Production,’’ said that when these steel materials are sourced locally, we will ensure sustainability.

“Due to the fact that most steel producers purchase raw materials from the global market, that means competition for raw materials.

“Our steel industries have yet to pick up fully, if we go into the global market to source for materials, suppliers will preferentially want to supply established customers who have regular activities,’’ he said.

The two-day summit was attended by stakeholders in the Steel and Solid Minerals sector from nationwide.

NAN