It is not easy to keep focus and generate revenue amidst daunting challenges but this was the determination of the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office, NMCO, a parastatal under the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NMCO through its Director General, Engr Obadiah Simon Nkom, placed the agency revenue generation for the Federal Government a priority and significantly boosted it beyond expectation.
The agency has attracted Federal Government’s attention to the nation’s solid mineral sector, and is based on various reforms and pragmatic policies made by the NMCO and the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
Taking an overview of the sector under the Buhari-led administration, which declared diversification of the economy from oil and gas to other sectors including the solid minerals and agricultural sectors, it will be recalled that the COVID-19 pandemic struck economies of the world, hence disrupted Nigeria’s revenue generation plan via solid minerals sector.
In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic quagmire affecting revenue generation, the Nkom-led MCO was not distracted on its quest to generate revenue for the Federal Government.
Prelude to Revenue Generation
The implementation of reform programmes by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite and the Minister of State, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, based on the Roadmap in the sector, reports have it that the country witnessed major entry of mining companies from Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, UK, China, Japan, South Africa, and others.
And these companies have their mineral titles and are currently on exploration and exploiting activities at various solid minerals site.
Strategies Used to Surmount Daunting Challenges
The DG, MCO, Engr Obadiah Nkom revealed that ongoing reforms at the MCO has transformed the way of doing business and promoted easy way of doing business.The automation of all activities and provision of online database have taken the sector to the world stage, hence boosting investors’ confidence.
According to Engr Nkom, the repositioning of MCO for revenue generation began by going back to the law establishing the organisation, and from there set the machinery for revenue generation including recovering monies owed by clients.
He said the entire system was overhauled and sanitised, and that fast-tracked revenue generation in an unprecedented manner.
The Use it or Lose it policy was central in the industry as companies were kept their toes, and also those seeking for services from the agency but were owing monies on previous services were made to pay before service.
He said, “And that has been our major strategy to make our revenue go up. We also ensure enforcement of the Minerals and Mining Act 2007.
“Use it or Lose it strategy being implemented to ensure all licenses are operational, and those not being used are revoked in accordance with the law.”
He also added that, “There were major strategies the agency works with that have really increased revenue generation for government.
Unprecedented Revenue Flow
According to the MCO boss, despite budgetary constraints and coupled with other challenges created zonal offices, and was able to generate revenue N9.384 billion within a period of three years at the end of 2021.
Meanwhile, in 2019, MCO generated N2.580 billion, which was the second highest revenue the agency recorded since inception in 2007.
However, he revealed, “How did we make more money in 2019? We told operators who owe us money but came to us for services that they would get services only after they had gone to purge themselves and come back with zero-debt. We stopped giving services to those owing us.”
For 2020, a year of the height of devastating COVID-19 pandemic, the agency never relented but was able to go all out against all odds to N2.303 billion.
On December 31, 2021, the revenue generated was N4.3 billion, which was the highest revenue ever generated by the Nkom-led NMCO.
Process of Having Mineral Title
He said, “The right to explore or exploit minerals in Nigeria is evidenced by the grant of a mineral title which can be granted to an eligible applicant under the Act in accordance with the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Regulations (NMMR) and after the submission of an irrevocable consent form by land owners or occupiers.”
The listed mineral titles obtainable in the country include the Reconnaissance Permit (RP), Exploration Licence (EL), Small Scale Mining Lease (SSML), Mining Lease (ML), Quarry Lease (QL) and the Water Use Permit (WUP).
He also disclosed that as at March 2022, 7,233 valid titles are active, while since inception of NMCO 15,483 applications have been refused while 4,997 revoked.
The Vision Driving Change at NMCO
“I came in with a vision and I had my strategy, and that is to be able to improve and be more transparent and to be able to now ensure that we work with relevant agencies; even now we are working closely with NEITI”, he said.
The NMCO is waxing stronger by the day and has become a window of Nigeria’s mining sector to the world.
Recently, NMCO, was rated best Digital Innovative agency by the Nigeria Internet Registration Association, NIRA, which is evident of the transformation through visionary leadership by Engr Nkom.
This development has resuscitated the mining sector and has placed the sector on the path of growth, and investors now accessing vital information of the sector.
However, sustainability is the nucleus of this monumental transformation at the agency and the sector, because this is a sign of greater impacts and achievements ahead under Engr Nkom’s leadership.