Miners under the auspices under the Miners Association of Nigeria, MAN, have called on the Federal Government to release the lingering N5 billion mining fund to cushion effects by the ravaging coronavirus, COVID-19, on the mining sector.
The National President of MAN, Kabir Kankara, made the call in a chat with Vanguard while expressing concern over job losses in the mining sector as seen in other mining countries currently ravaged by the virus.
Kankara asserted that job losses can only be avoided from happening in Nigeria if the federal government would make available the N5 billion mining fund already approved for miners by the President Muhammadu Buhari.
Kankara said: “The mining sector has been hard hit in terms of job losses even before the advent of coronavirus.
“We have been under-funded and we have been yearning to climb up higher, and being realistic in business activities.
“Definitely, with what is on the ground now it has hit us hard and it is not going to be easy for us to wake up again. Even after the pandemic in Nigeria, it is not going to be easy for us to get back to normalcy.
“Unless the government comes to our aid and that is to release the money we are yearning for, which is the N5 billion we supposed to have but it is still not with us, nothing has been released to us, and the money is there.”
He further stated that the right time for the money to be released is now that the economy, livelihood, businesses, and investments are threatened to collapse.
“So this is the right time government should release this money to us so it will cushion the devastating effect that coronavirus has inflicted on our business activities in the sector.
“I will want a situation where the government will be so responsive to release this money and make sure the fund goes round to get to artisanal and small scale miners as soon as possible so that the effect of stay-at-home order and business collapse which is global will be cushioned in order for our people to wake up again. So that is my expectation from government.”
He also said the association cannot do anything financially to assist members but needs support from the government and other development partners who can come to their rescue.
Meanwhile, he assured members not to panic as there will be an end to the raging virus, because the association is working hard to ensure the sector bounces back.
“To cap it all I want to give my kind assurances to my brothers and sisters in the mining industry that despite the situation we are in, economic turbulence that is affecting the globe by coronavirus pandemic keeping away everybody from business and sites we are still on our feet and we are up and doing to see that the sector does not go down and collapse.
“Instead of it to go down we are making sure that the sector climbs up by reaching out to relevant bodies to see that financial support is given to our association.
“Also in terms of health, sanitation is carried out in our operational sites, and we are doing capacity building to stay safe not only on coronavirus. Definitely, when the pandemic is over the mining sector will bounce back”, he stated.