Lawmakers of the lower legislative chambers have set machinery in motion to investigate how N350 billion Natural Resources Fund was spent “in spite of the fact that the Solid Minerals Sector never benefited from it.”
To this effect, the House has mandated its committees on Public Accounts and Solid Minerals Development to investigate the matter and report back to it within six weeks for further legislative action.
The resolution of the House was sequel to the adoption of the prayers of a motion by a member, Hon. Danlami Mohammed Kurfi at plenary on Wednesday.
In the motion titled: ” Urgent need to address the utilisation of the N350 billion National Resources Fund ( NRF) as a Finance Window for development of the Solid Mineral Sector,” the lawmaker said there is need to establish what happened to the account which was created in 2002 to ” develop alternative mineral resources with a view to reducing the nation’s over-dependence on oil.”
He further states: “in the 1970s, mining contributed over 10 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but unfortunately today, it contributes a mere 0.3 percent to the GDP, and sadly, the Natural Resources Fund (NRF) was never accessed by the solid minerals sector, even though the fund in the account was utilised.
Kurfi said the total accruals to the account between 2002 and 2012 was about N873 billion while utilisation stood at N701 billion leaving a balance of N172 billion by the end of 2012.
“Between 2013 and 2014, the sum of N159.6 billion was contributed to the fund, thus bringing the balance to about N350 billion.”
While the lawmaker noted that between 2013 and 2015, money was continuously withdrawn from the fund but no project in the solid mineral sector was funded with the money, he lamented the fact “that a Solid Mineral Development Fund was set up but was never funded.”
He expressed regret that millions of Nigerians are unemployed and the development of the solid mineral sector that would have been a great source of employment was being denied funding.
“The development of the solid mineral sector will accomplish establishment of livelihoods, poverty reduction through job creation and increase Nigeria’s external trade with the resultant increase in foreign exchange earnings,” he said.
The motion was passed without dissention after the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara called for a voice vote.
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