Abubakar Bwari, the immediate past Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, said about N20 billion has been spent from the N30 billion mining Intervention Fund given to the ministry.
Mr Bwari disclosed this at a reception organised for the Bwari by the ministry on Tuesday night in Abuja.
Recall that the Federal Executive Council, FEC, had in November 2016 approved N30 billion mining intervention fund for the ministry.
The fund was drawn from the Natural Resource Development Fund as intervention fund to focus on exploration activities which were the heart of mining.
He explained that N14 billion was drawn from the N30 billion for mineral exploration and N2.5 billion was taken from the intervention fund and earmarked as loan to support the artisanal miners.
Mr Bwari said that the exploration became necessary as it would help the Federal Government to know the quality and quantity of minerals available in the country.
“The N2.5 billion artisanal mining loan is in the custody of the Bank of Industry (BoI), and it could only be accessed by miners that meet the criteria required.”
He also said that 110 megawatt power plant in Ajaokuta steel, light section and rolling mills were currently being renovated through the fund.
According to him, part of the money was used for the renovation of the metallurgical centre in Jos, Plateau.
“About N10 billion is remaining from the N30 billion is being used for the payment of on-going activities and renovation,” he said.
He said that some of the challenges facing the sector include lack of fund and capacity to monitor mining activities across the country.
“We need more hands, equipment and logistics, among others,” Mr Bwari said.
Dr Abdulkadir Muazu, the Permanent Secretary, Mines and Steel Development called for the reappointment of the former minister as the substantial minister of the ministry.
He said that Bwari had in the past three and half years served, the ministry with all sincerity, dedicated and committed to the growth of the sector, therefore deserved to the reappointed as minister.
“My wish for the immediate past minister of state is to be reappointed back to the ministry not as a state minister but as a substantial minister.
“Bwari worked and touched every area of the ministry, such as curbing illegal mining, explorations, among others,” he said.
Ghali Na’Abba, the former Speaker, National Assembly has described Bwari has a selfless, dedicated and humble personality who had contributed to the growth of the sector and the country at large.
Mr Na’Abba said that Bwari, who served as the Chief Whip of the House of Assembly during his time as speaker performed his duties appropriately.
He described him as an exceptional leader that was not common to come by, prayed that God should raise dedicated and humble men like Bwari for the nation.
Janet Adeyemi, the President, Women in Mining in Nigeria said that the benchmark set by the minister during his tenure yielded the growth currently being witnessed in the sector.
Obadiah Nkom, the Director General, Mining Cadestre Office, MCO, appreciated Bwari for reviving the sector from its dormancy state.
According to him, Nigeria is now recognised as a mining country, adding that his plan is to see that Nigeria mining is returned to the world mining map.
He urged the professionals in the ministry to continue from where he stopped, adding that the sector has many opportunities.
Other speakers at the event wished him success in his future endeavours.