Land ownership: PwC asks FG, states to resolve issue

Land ownership: PwC asks FG, states to resolve issue

The Country Senior Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Nigeria, Uyi Akpata, has urged the Federal and state governments to urgently resolve the issue of land ownership in the country.

This, he said, is to create the enabling environment for more foreign direct investments (FDIs) in critical sectors of the country.

Speaking to BusinessDay on the sidelines of the Second Annual Mining Week in Abuja, Akpata also charged the government to explore avenues to engage artisanal miners with a view to reducing the incidences of illegal mining in Nigeria.

Nigeria is looking for investments of $7 billion in mining and steel over the next decade as it seeks to develop gold and iron ore extraction industries to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

The country aims to increase mining’s contribution to gross domestic product from 0.3percent  in 2015 to 7percent within a decade: from $1.44 billion to $33.67 billion.

It also plans to create a $1 billion mining exploration fund from state and private capital to improve data on Nigeria’s mineral wealth. Each exploration project will be supported with about $5 million.

“One of the teething problems in the industry is ownership of title between the Federal Government and the states. Whilst you are waiting for constitutional reforms but if you clearly identify that each stakeholder will benefit, then you can have a common ground and make that difference because ultimately it will be in the best interest of everyone whether the communities, the state government in terms of revenue, the Federal Government in terms of attracting overall investment,” Akpata who doubles as the Regional Senior Partner, PwC West Africa stated.

He called for partnership between the Federal and state governments that would address the persistent misunderstanding and conflicts between the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and states’ Ministries for Mines.

Industry experts have advocated for legal framework that would remove mining licensing and administration from the Exclusive List so that the states could be involved in mining administration in the country.

In a major blow to economic reforms and wealth creation in Nigeria, the National Assembly had in July rejected the proposal for the deletion of Land Use Act from the 1999 Constitution and Devolution of powers to state houses of assemblies.

The Land Use Act is seen as one of the biggest impediments to converting land resources into individual wealth in the country as it hinders the transferability of ownership rights in landed property without government interference.

Akpata explained that PwC has been a major player in the Nigerian mining sector in the last five years, adding that part of its objectives is to contribute to the development of the economy.

The Country Senior Partner said this informed the organisation’s sponsorship of the Mining Week.

While commending the present administration for its efforts at diversifying the economy, he specifically eulogised the efforts of the Presidential Initiative to Improve Business Environment chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

“We were part of those who helped in articulating the road map because we presented an independent view to be sure that all stakeholders are covered.

“Our purpose is to build trust in society and solve complex problems. And you know that development of the mining sector has been a complex problem all the while. So, what we did about five years ago, knowing that this was likely to happen, we decided investing in top leadership, engaging with the PwC network, organisations in Australia, Canada, South Africa, Ghana and we are taking examples of what should be happening and best practices and bringing into Nigeria. So we developed quite a number of top leadership thesis, bringing local knowledge with our international experience and it was one of those top leadership thesis we shared with Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel Development (Kayode Fayemi) when he came on board about two years ago; he picked that up and to him, he said that was instrumental in giving him a foundation on understanding on the industry itself,” he stated.

Nigeria presently has 44 minerals, of which seven are of commercial quantity.

According to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the seven strategic solid minerals of commercial quantity are: coal, limestone, lead/zinc, bitumen, barytes, gold and iron ore.

 

OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja

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