THE United Kingdom has pledged to support Nasarawa for the development of mining and agriculture in the state.
The UK High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing gave this information when she paid a visit to Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule in the government House, Lafia, in the just-ended week.
The state, which prides itself as ‘Home of Solid Minerals,’ boasts of three major geological components –based complex, granites and sedimentary rocks.
Some notable solid minerals available in the state are :cassiterite, gemstone, amethyst, beryl, emerald, garnet, sapphire, tin, clay, barytes, galena, among others.
The Federal Government also recognises Nasarawa State as the home of solid minerals by citing the Solid Machinery and Equipment Development Institute in the state.
However, this has failed to translate into the development of Nasarawa as the solid mineral activities in the state are still largely at the informal level.
On the back of this concern, High Commissioner Catriona Laing said that transformation in agriculture was very important to the UK, while reaffirming her country’s willingness to support the growth of mining and agribusiness in the state.
“We have very good expertise in that area to partner with Nasarawa State,” she said.
“Getting in place the rightful enabling environment and how quickly Nasarawa jumped through the ranks to number three in investment inflow is quite amazing. Therefore, we should look for areas to partner with the states.”
Governor Sule, while responding to the support of the high commissioner, said the state had developed a pubic-private partnership forum which had been a veritable tool to foster private sector investment in the state.
He noted that the state secured radical projects in education, transportation, health, mining, and agriculture.
“We have established the Nasarawa State Infrastructural Fund, where give per cent of our internally generated revenue (IGR) would be dedicated mainly for infrastructural development.”
Governor Sule has engaged the Federal Government on the possibility of removing solid minerals from the exclusive legislative list and moving them to the concurrent list to enable states to enjoy their benefits.
Just like Governor Sule, Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has called for an urgent review of the Solid Minerals Act of 2007.
The Act places the exploration and exploitation of solid minerals in the exclusive legislative, which Ayade said was an obnoxious policy not good for the host communities.
He said the subsisting policy, where mining licences were issued to miners without the input of host states, was not people-oriented.
Also, Governor Seyi Makinde has called on the Federal Government to remove the solid minerals from exclusive legislative list, noting that it was not helping states grow at the required pace economically.
Analysts say this is necessary to drive economic growth and financial independence in states.
“We must get to the point where the states are fiscally independent to drive economic growth. This is one of the ways, and the time has come for us to push for amendments such as this,” Associate Consultant to the British Department for International Development Celestine Okeke told The ICIR.
Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.