The Federal Government has intensified efforts to streamline the activities of the Solid Mineral Development Fund (SMDF) and support its operations in order to enable it deliver on its mandate, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD).has organised a two-day interactive special meeting with the Board Members and Management of the SMDF to enable it present its Strategic Plan of Action (SPA) for ratification.
The retreat which took place at the Envoy Hotel, along Diplomatic Drive had in attendance, heads of agencies and parastatals under MMSD. In his keynote address at the event, the Minister of State, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari said the retreat was a deliberate effort on the part of the ministry to provide the needed support required to establish a governance structure for the SMDF to enable it deliver on its mandate.
A statement from the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, signed by Idowu Jokpeyibo made available to The TRUTH, in Abuja, the minister charged the Board to evolve a functional governance structure within the framework of the Act establishing the SMDF in order to facilitate its immediate operationalisation. The Minister of State referred to the recently concluded Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) focus Labs which recommended that the SMDF be provided with a two hundred billion naira capital in addition to the earlier plans for raising $600 in bond.
He said: “I call on the Board of the SMDF to exploit the opportunities provided by this retreat to ensure that such a structure is fashioned out so that the SMDF can begin to deliver on its mandate,”
Hon Bwari said it is the Ministry’s responsibility to ensure that the SMDF develops the capacity to play the crucial role given to it, and called on all agencies under the ministry to be innovative and resilient in order to contribute meaningfully to the development of the mining sector.
He said the Ministry is more determined than ever to pursue the reform initiative contained in the ministry’s Roadmap for the Growth and Development of the Nigerian Mining Industry. He further called on all the departments and agencies of the ministry to be committed to giving the SMDF all the supports it needs to succeed.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Abdulkadri Muazu said the meeting is aimed at educating the SMDF as a parastatal of the ministry about its relationship with the ministry, the powers, functions and duties and responsibilities of the Board and the management which he believed is fundamental to the effective functioning of the SMDF.
The meeting, according to him was also to give the management and relevant agencies an overview of the current situations in the SMDF, identify potential areas of partnership in order to guide the ministry in mobilising the technical and human resources needed to strengthen and support it, to implement the strategic plans of actions as developed at the Special Board meeting.
Dr Muazu said for SMDF to justify its existence, especially in view of the current economic reform initiatives under the Economic Recovery Growth Plan, he believed that it has no option to developing the required capacity to function effectively while acknowledging the fact that SMDF needs support and assistance to succeed.
While he highlighted issues which he said have been identified to have constrained the effective performance of the Board to include governance, capacity, visibility, partnership, relationship, management and funding, the Permanent Secretary was however optimistic that the challenges would be overcome.
Chairman of the Board, Alhaji Uba Saidu Malami said the Board has taken the challenge as the enablers of the mining sector seriously, adding that it faces the challenge of developing physical and human capacity in the mining sector, private sector, geo-scientific data gathering to promote investments, equipping mining institutions to help perform their statutory functions, capacity building in the small and artisanal mining sector and also infrastructural development to mining areas.
He said as a primary approach, the board intends to complement the various hard work, experience and expertise that have enriched the sector over the years. “As a public organiser, we intend to be a bridge between the public and the private participation and make the mining sector a sustainable and virile sector,” he assured and called for the cooperation and support of all the various agencies and departments of the ministry towards the achievement of their objectives of having a reliable financial support structure for the solid mineral sector.
The Secretary of the Board and the Chief Executive of the SMDF, Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi appreciated the Minister and the Permanent Secretary for creating the platform for interaction as she said the sector is getting the much needed attention after decades of neglect.
She said SMDF is envisioned to carry out specific projects and interventions covering, financing, capacity development, external linkage and infrastructural development among others.
Hajiya Shinkafi disclosed that the primary funding to SMDF would be sourced from the Natural Resources Development Fund (NRDF) while additional funding would come from various sources such as funds appropriated for solid minerals development and grants, donations, foreign loans, bonds and long-term swaps.
The TRUTH reports that the Solid Minerals Development Fund, SMDF was established by section thirty-four of the Nigerian Mining and Minerals Act 2007. The aim is to address the fundamental sectoral challenge of insufficient funding; a problem that has historically undermined the growth potentials of the sector. The Board was reconstituted and inaugurated on 25th May, 2017 with Alhaji Uba Saidu Malami as Chairman and Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi as Secretary and also as the Chief Executive of the SMDF.