Abuja - President Muhammadu Buhari has warned that the Federal Government will no longer tolerate illegal mining and other improper activities inhibiting the growth of Nigeria’s solid minerals sector.
The president gave the warning after receiving a briefing from top officials of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, led by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Umar Farouk.
The president, who noted that the mines and steel sector was very important for the diversification of the economy, expressed displeasure at Farouk’s report that the sector had been overrun by illegal miners.
"This is one of the most demoralising briefs I have received. The biggest threat to this country besides the Boko Haram is unemployment and the mining sector is key to employment creation.
"We cannot be held back on such a strategic industry that can give us much needed jobs and promote economic growth.
"There must be more seriousness in running this country and we are determined to instill that seriousness," the President said.
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The Permanent Secretary had said Nigeria’s mining sector had been infiltrated by “illegal aliens” who carried out unlawful mining activities in the country.
Also on Tuesday in Abuja, President Buhari directed the Ministry of Environment to undertake a rigorous study of Lake Chad and bring up proposals on how best to reverse the shrinking of the lake.
He said it had served as a major source of livelihood for thousands of people.
The president gave the directive after receiving a briefing from the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Nana Mede, the challenges facing the ministry.
President Buhari noted that the security and economic challenges faced by member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission could be substantially ameliorated with an improvement in the economic value of the lake.
The president also urged the Ministry of Environment to take up the challenge of researching cheaper ways of sourcing energy for cooking apart from firewood.
Mede had informed President Buhari that the lake had receded considerably from the 1960s, when it covered an area of more than 26,000 square kilometres, to less than one-tenth of that size currently.