The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, formally announced his resignation from the federal cabinet on Wednesday with profound appreciation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visionary leadership and prioritization of the mining sector.
Mr. Fayemi’s resignation, which was approved by the President, is to enable him contest the July 14 Ekiti State Governorship election for which he is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Minister announced his resignation at a valedictory press briefing held at the Ministry’s conference room.
He also used the occasion to give accounts of his stewardship in the ministry which he headed for two and a half years, admitting that the sector has indeed met its set goals of increasing its contribution to the national GDP.
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics recently affirmed that the revenue from the mining sector has increased more than five folds from the inception of the administration.
According to Mr. Fayemi, the support of the President greatly assisted in repositioning the mining sector for better performance, leading to remarkable growth recorded in the sector in the past two and a half years.
Mr. Fayemi cited improved funding for the sector, better geological data, improvement in the ease of doing business, security of the mines as well as removal of legal encumbrances that gad crippled some national assets as some areas the ministry, under his leadership, had recorded huge success.
Other achievements include stronger institutional capacity, enhanced capacity of staffs, improved infrastructure, better cooperative federalism, improvement in productivity, profitable collaboration with international development agencies.
He said he was confident that the Minister of State, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, who will now take charge of the Ministry, would forge ahead with the various reforms and innovations that have helped to reposition the sector.
Mr. Fayemi who lauded the support of the President said, owing to President Buhari’s understanding the Ministry was able to access N30billion intervention fund, which was the mining component of the National Resource Fund for the very first time since the creation of the ministry.
He said a substantial part of the fund was being spent on exploration, in the bid to ensure adequate mineral data.
He said: “As part of the support we received from the Natural Resources Fund, the Ministry has finalized exploration initiatives totalling N15 billion allowing successful entities help with the exploration of priority minerals like Gold, Lead, Zinc, Rare earth metals to mention a few.
“We have initiated the establishment of the National Minerals Commission (NMC), which would harmonise the functions of the Cadastre Office and a number of key departments in the ministry, under a unified administrative structure for greater efficiency and effectiveness in sector governance. This has been approved by the FEC and passed 2nd reading at the National Assembly.
“We have reinvigorated our Mines Surveillance efforts, with the deployment of newly trained and empowered officers across the federation.
“Infrastructure required for the proper functioning of the minerals and mining ecosystem such as railroads, competitive financing systems, mine and asset security and related support services are being developed in concert with other government entities. For instance, as part of our efforts to de-risk the sector, we are in discussions with the Bank of Infrastructure, as part of a consortium, to attract private capital investments for critical mining infrastructure.
“In order to encourage beneficial participation of state governments in the mining sector, we have gotten approval for the implementation of the constitutionally guaranteed 13% derivation for mineral revenue to states, similar to the derivation that oil-producing states currently enjoy from the federation accounts.
“We have delivered on the objective of building a collaborative sector security framework by working extensively with state governments and relevant ministries to formalize and manage our artisanal miners, while also working with defence and security agencies to curb the actions of illegal mining in the country.
“We also recorded progress in resolving the legal issues around our legacy projects, particularly Ajaokuta. We have signed a Modified Concession Agreement (MCA) that has allowed for the commencement of the return of the entity to the Federal Government of Nigeria. We have in place a timeline of action which would see the legacy plant become operational in the near future. We are at this time concluding an audit process, further to which we would fully take over the plant. We are taking the most appropriate steps in our national interest to ensure Ajaokuta is finally put to work after several false starts in the past.
“On ALSCON, we have also made significant progress in our efforts to bring the Company back to life with the approval of the National Council on Privatisation that the company be given to UC Rusal with clear conditionalities for resuscitation.
“Development of IT integrated Automation and interactive Web portal for the MMSD to create One Stop Shop online interface for investors and other players in the sector to obtain data on a broad range of subjects about our jurisdiction, and process a number of key applications from anywhere in the world.
“Launched a N5 billion fund (made up of N2.5 billion by SMDF & a counterpart fund of N2.5 billion by Bank of Industry) to provide single digit interest loans to Artisanal and Small & Medium scale miners.
It was a press briefing with an unusual outpouring of emotions, as the Minister of State, Mr. Bwari, and the Permanent Secretary poured encomium on the outgoing minister.
Mr. Fayemi added, “On one hand, I have a deep sense of pride about my contributions to the landmark achievements we have been able to achieve in the sector, and I am thus transitioning out with my head held high. On the other hand, I am overwhelmed by emotions as I bid goodbye to a sector that I, together with other patriots have invested a great deal of passionate and patriotic efforts over the past two years.
“My sincere thanks and appreciation goes to His Excellency Mr. President and His Excellency the Vice President for the visionary leadership and prioritization of the sector; as well as to my ministerial colleague, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari – Minister of State. I similarly acknowledge the support of the previous Permanent Secretaries in the ministry, Mr. Istifanus Fuktur and Mr. Mohammed Abbas, as well as the current Permanent Secretary, Dr. Abdulkadir Mu’azu, the entire Staff of the Ministry as well as all players and stakeholders in the industry.”
The Minister of State, Mr. Bwari, in an emotion-laded address at the event, described Mr. Fayemi as a patriot who was passionate about development of the sector.
“I would have wished he stayed much longer to conclude the assignment we started together, but I know he is on a rescue mission to Ekiti State. To him, the Ekiti election is more than just an election. It is a rescue mission. So, our loss (in the ministry) is Ekiti state gain.”
Mr. Bwari who described Mr. Fayemi as a friend and brother, said their relationship has transcended beyond being just colleagues. “He is my brother, friend and mentor. If there is an opportunity in the future, I would love to work with you again.”
The Permanent Secretary, Muazu Abdulkadir, described Mr. Fayemi as an expert on policy matters, governance and development, from whom he had learnt a lot.
Mr. Abdulkadir, who said he had an amazing time working with the Minister, said his intellect and energy he brought into his assignment are quite remarkable.
“Dr Fayemi is extremely passionate about the sector. The reforms he introduced in the sector has led to remarkable growth as reflected in the huge increase in contribution to the national GDP.
“As an expert in policy, governance and development, it is a serious task working with him. But he makes the job easier by his ability to proffer solutions to knotty issues. We shall miss his intellectualism and administrative acumen,” Mr. Abdulkadir added.