The Federal Government has warned the governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, on supplying misleading information to the public.
It said that the government provided misleading information on its gold purchase, and in the process, made it look as if the state has the exclusive right to the minerals located in the state.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, who said this, stated that the Federal Government issues licences to those interested to purchase minerals, as long as they meet the necessary criteria.
He said that the Zamfara State government followed the process and purchased gold from artisanal miners in the state who normally would have sold the gold to bandits who exchange the gold for weapons at the borders.
He said this at a press conference yesterday in Abuja, while marking the Nigerian Mining Week digital event.
He said: “I had a meeting with the Zamfara people. They need to get their narrative right to the public. What the governor is doing is right, but the way he is portraying it to the media is wrong. He is sending wrong signals out.
“Individuals, corporate bodies, including states and local governments, are free to buy any mineral product, as long as you go through the normal process. We have what we call private mineral buying centres. We issue licences so that anyone that is interested will come to us, and once you meet the criteria, we give you a licence to purchase these minerals.
“And that is the angle that Zamfara State is exploiting. From their own funds, they are buying gold from their people. I spoke to the governor that he needs to explain this to the people properly. It is not as if they are cornering the resources that belong to the Federal Government. What they found out was that most of these minerals were being sold to bandits. That was what was fuelling banditry and insecurity in the area.
“Artisanal miners who need money to take care of their families are selling to bandits who are buying from them very cheaply, and they will now go and resell for higher profits across the borders. What they do is that they exchange gold for guns, bullets and other weapons.
“What the governor is doing is quite commendable. What they are doing is weaning these people away from the bandits. Rather than allowing the bandits buy from the people, the government is buying it from them. I had to have a meeting with him because the way the governor is portraying it is that the Zamfara gold belongs to the Zamfara government. It does not. All mineral resources in this country are vested in the Federal Government.”
He also said, “The 5th edition of the Nigerian Mining Week will take place in a digital format for the first time as the event drives vital revenues for suppliers and mining operators. It is important to all stakeholders at this time.
“The inspiring online platform with world-class speakers, live discussions, engagement, digital networking and product showcases will make sure you achieve your business goals and deliver a meaningful audience. It is clear that the industry is eager to engage, ask questions, find solutions and close deals.
“We are trying to create a data centre that will be accessible all over the world by taking the Nigerian Geological Survey and the mining cadastral online for investors to access anywhere in the world, to have access to our mineral deposits and their locations, to give them an idea on what to invest in. We have over 44 minerals and still counting with where they can be found. These are some of the things that we have done to enhance business in that sector.”