… Promises to appropriate more funds to NGSA
From DENNIS MERNYI, Abuja
The Senate Committee on Mines and Steel Development has expressed concern over the inclusion of Bitumen in the petroleum sector as contained in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) presently before the National Assembly. Chairman of the committee, Senator Abdullahi Adamu who led the committee members including Senator Joshua Dariye, on oversight function to the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) in Abuja, noted with concern that the inclusion of Bitumen into the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) must have been done in error and that if it was a deliberate mistake it should be corrected before the bill is passed into law.
Expressing concern over the inadequate budgetary allocation to the agency which has retarded its activities including mapping of the country as explained by the NGSA Director General, Professor Siyan Malomo in a presentation during the visit, Senator Adamu urged the agency to make known to the committee its programmes, achievements and challenges enable it to ascertain how much would be appropriated to it. Professor Malomo had earlier told the committee that out of the N3.124 billion budget proposed by the agency for the year 2012, only N2.728 billion was appropriated.
He said, about 40 per cent capital funds was released, 74 per cent from overhead and 70 per cent for personnel latest by August. According to Senator Adamu, Bitumen is one of the highly rated solid minerals in the country’s mining sector with the potentials of turning the around the fortunes of the nation’s economy and has no place in the petroleum industry. “We are really concerned as members of the mines and steel development in the National Assembly over its inclusion in the (PIB) awaiting passage.
As far as we know, Bitumen does not belong to the Petroleum sector. “We may need to be explained why it was included in the PIB. But I can tell you that Bitumen is not part of the petroleum sector and we will ensure Bitumen is removed from the PIB and brought back to the Solid Minerals sector”, he stated. On the alleged diversion of N700 billion solid minerals funds for other uses instead of the purpose for which it was meant, chairman of the committee said, “we are aware of that fact and did hear that the Nigerian Miners Association had raised alarm. I think it is well founded.
“Our attention has equally been drawn to it and I think there was evidence that somebody went behind to collect the money in the name of solid minerals to do another thing other than what it was meant for. But by the time he is fully briefed and advised on what to do, an action would be taken, I can assure you”, he noted. Expressing concern over the completion of the World Bank’s sponsored Sustainable Solid Minerals Projects in the country, he said the project remains one of the most successful one in the record of Nigeria’s management of foreign sponsored projects.
“I think the project was most successful. It remains one of the World Bank’s most successful projects Nigeria ever handled. They did first one and concluded it successfully,” he noted.