N900bn missing since 2007, says Senate

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The federal government has misappropriated over N900 billion revenue accruing to the Natural Resources Funds accounts since 2007, the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals said on Tuesday.

Chairman of the committee, Abdulahi Adamu, made the dis­closure during budget defence, adding that the funds were creat­ed since 2007 through a legislation and that the money was paid into the accounts.

Adamu explained that the funds, 1.6 percent of all the past annual budgets since 2007, were either diverted or misapplied by successive governments of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He lamented that the Nation­al Solid Minerals Development Agency (NSMDA), which is re­sponsible for accessing and allo­cating the funds was only created in 2013, asking where the alloca­tions had been going before the creation of the agency.

He regretted that Nigerians had been short-changed by the federal government, pointing out that had the funds been disbursed to the state and local governments, they would have gone a long way to turn around their fortunes in the area of solid mineral develop­ment.

While calling for explanations from the federal government on the whereabouts of the funds, Ad­amu said the country could not continue the way it was going, saying there was need for change in the government of the country.

However, in his explanations, the Minister for Solid Minerals, Mines and Steel, Musa Sada, said the funds resided with the Minis­try of Finance, while the funds for solid minerals development was controlled by the ministry.

He also said that the ministry in­tended to establish a laboratory in Jos for research and development of solid minerals in the country, adding that this would help inves­tors to have access to reliable data on any area of development they intended to embark on in solid minerals.

On this note, Senator Adamu as­sured the minister that the Senate would do everything possible to provide legislative back-up for the establishment of the solid miner­als development laboratory.

Meanwhile, other senators who spoke at the budget defence, also lamented that the ministry had low capital budget, which they noted would not be adequate for it to perform its statutory duties of developing the solid mineral min­istry.

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