Reps to probe looting of natural resources fund

Beloved JohnDecember 22, 20233 min

The motion called for the probe of alleged diversion of billions from the natural resources development fund over the years

Rep Abiante on flooding in Abuja
Rep, Abiante

The House of Representatives is set to investigate the usage of funds in the National Resources Development Fund established for the advancement of the solid minerals sector from 2002 to 2023.

The House made this resolution at plenary on Thursday, December 21, 2023, following the adoption of a motion on the “need to investigate the utilisation of financial interventions in the Nigerian solid mineral sector amounting to trillions of naira.”

The federal government, in 2002, had initiated the fund in an effort to diversify the economy, reduce reliance on the petroleum sector, and expand solid minerals development. 

However, between 2002 and 2023, there have been multiple reports of corruption and diversion of funds and deposits into the fund amounting to trillions of naira. 

According to the motion sponsor, Rep. Awaji-Inombek D. Abiante (PDP, Rivers), financial records from 2007 to 2011 revealed misappropriation of N365 billion in fund allocations. 

He also noted in his lead debate that the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) disclosed in its 2019 audit report that the fund has suffered misappropriation despite effforts by the National Assembly to check such practices. 

He said “in the last quarter of 2016, a 30 million dollars intervention fund was approved from the fund and released for the facilitation of exploration operations and the formalisation of Artisanal Miners. In 2019, the Presidency directed the Federal Ministry of Finance to allocate funds to the Solid Minerals Development Fund to manage the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative to formalise and institutionalise the artisanal gold mining industry. 

“Again in 2017, the World Bank-assisted Mineral Sector for Economic Development Project (MINDIVER), under the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, gave the country’s solid mineral sector a facility of 150 million dollars to enhance the mining sector’s contribution to the Nigerian economy. in July 2020, the Federal Ministry of Finance disclosed to the public a credit balance of 131.59 billion Naira in the fund. 

“But between 2007 to 2020, records of its contributions to the solid minerals sector remain unclear. According to a 2019 audit report, the Nigerian government allegedly diverted a substantial amount of 903.63 billion naira allocated to the fund in ten years, from 2007 to 2011 and 2012 to 2016.” 

These developments, Rep. Abiante said, underscores the need to ascertain the present credit balance of the fund, the proportion of interventions from the fund to the solid minerals sector of the economy and status of utilisation. 

At the end of debate, the House directed its committee on solid minerals development to investigate the utilisation of the natural resources fund over the years and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

Beloved John

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