Power can’t be fixed without mining sector collaboration, says Fashola

Power sector problems cannot be fixed without the collaborative efforts of the mining sector, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said.

He stated this during the just-concluded 2nd Annual Nigeria Mining Week in Abuja. Fashola agreed that there was very little the power sector could achieve without mining. He said: “As the power sector rolls out transmission stations and installs transformers, all these are operational inputs of the mining industry.”

‘’If the Works ministry is constructing a road, clearly it is a joint effort of the mining sector. It is impossible to have coal power without coal mining,’’ he maintained.

Fashola said it was a welcome development to pursue cleaner energy which is the best to happen to human civilisation today. According to him, we move from firewood to coal, to petroleum, to gas and now we are going to much more renewable energy.

He noted that the pursuit of cleaner energy now has been heightened because of the need to reduce carbon emissions and the desire for more- efficient energy for improved wealth and industrialisation.

He stated that the country’s energy mix compelled the power ministry to build energy security ‘’so that we are less dependent on any particular source of energy. Because we have the ability to produce energy from coal, as we do from solar, gas, from hydro, we are pursuing and supporting a private sector investment initiative, which has gained some momentum. They are now close to being licensed, close to s.”

He said it was not unusual to hear that Power, Works and Housing got the lion share in the 2016 budget followed by transportation to build the rail, but argued that the money was not solely utilised by the power, works and housing.

According to him, the money actually went to the miners because the works ministry ‘’cannot build any of the roads without granite, sand, laterite, cement, limestone, or without bitumen. These take the money.

“The problem simply is that we cannot budget the money for solid minerals, so we budget it for power, works and housing, and Transportation, with a very clear mandate go and give it to the miners,” he maintained.

Fashola, who revealed he was on a mission to tell the miners that the Federal Government had raised N100 billion for road construction, insisted the money would not stay long with the power, works and housing ministry. It would soon be passed on to the true owners, including those who own the quarry and the mining sites, he stated, and urged them to be ready for work because money was coming their way.

He said  for almost a decade, the country had spent just about 15 per cent of what it earned on infrastructure, adding that a government that spends less on construction cannot create opportunities.

Identifying reasons why the country was able to swim out of the recession, Fashola said the present administration had in the 2016 budget doubled this number, adding that at the end of the budget year which ended in May, 2017, the government had spent N1.2 trillion, the first time that amount of money was spent for a long time only on capital budget.

“The numbers published by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had clearly showed where the money ended up. The solid minerals had had nine consecutive negative quarter growth since 2014 but by the end of quarter two of  2017, it has come out of negative growth for the first time,” he said.

In quarter one of 2017, limestone, granite, and sand constituted 90 per cent of the mining activities that took place in the mining industry. The other minerals accounted for 10 per cent, he said, adding that construction industry, which had been in negative growth, started picking up as a result of the implementation of that budget.

He also noted there was growth in the basic metals, iron and steel industry during the period, urging the people to visit the mining sites and see for themselves what is happening there. According to him, the government has started preparing to collect data with the disbursement of the sum of money and to undertake a very granular observation of the impact of the fund in their sector over the period the money would be disbursed.

“We already have the infrastructure master plan, so we are not reinventing the will, we know where the infrastructure needs life and we know where the goods and services needed to be moved to. We already have these all mapped out and so slowly but surely as Nigeria earns more money, as we can borrow more, with the clear plan to provide the transportation, good network and structure that allows you to do your business in a very effective, efficient and competitive way,” he said.

He reassured commitment by the present government to reorganise, reinvigorate and reposition the mining industry in Nigeria, adding that illegal mining has been reduced by government policies and actions.

“It is an ongoing engagement, the collaboration between stakeholders and states, Federal and local governments are being worked upon through the establishment of national council,” he said.

He praised the ministry of solid minerals, saying it had done a very good job in so short a time in getting the conversation going.

Fashola said restructuring was happening in the way the ministry is, engaging with the local communities and state governments in spite of a very clear exclusive powers that they have in the constitution.

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