The Federal Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has explained to sand miners and other users of Nigerian inland waterways that the authority empower by law to regulate activities on the waterways in Nigeria is the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
Fayemi, who was in Lagos as part of his Ministry’s nationwide town hall meeting with stakeholders held at Oriental Hotel Victoria Island, noted that the law of the land specifically mandated NIWA to manage and control all activities on all water bodies in Nigeria and that fact has not changed.
According to him, “The position of the law as I understand it is that everyone who needs to do business on Nigeria waterways needs NIWA permit and that position has not changed. So if you need to do sand mining or related activities, you must approach NIWA to get permit and that is the position of law today”.
The Minister while responding to the various issues, particularly on sand mining in Lagos, noted that NIWA and the Ministry of Mines will work together to ensure that stakeholders are protected and pleaded with all concerned to be patient until the federal agencies, that is NIWA and Ministry of Mines and Steel Development work out modalities that will be acceptable to all.
“I have taken notice of the sad development whereby many organisations or individuals rush to the courts to obtain judgments. We are studying the scenario but I will urge that all concerned give us chance to sort things out. NIWA and Mines Ministry work for the Federal Government and therefore cannot fight each other. We at the Ministry of Mines are also part of the ongoing review of the NIWA Act at the National Assembly, so we understand ourselves and cannot be at logger heads” he said.
In a brief response, NIWA Area Manager in Lagos, Engr. Muazu Sambo explained that Dr. Kayode Fayemi was right in his observations and noted that all decisions taken by NIWA in Lagos were approved by the leadership of the regulatory body in Lokoja where its headquarters is located.
“I want to thank the minister for his candid position on the NIWA law and to add that NIWA in Lagos does nothing on its own without the express approval of the management led by Boss Mustapha”, he noted.
Sambo explained further that NIWA regulatory fees or charges are not taxes as captured by the Nigerian Tax Policy and therefore encourage stakeholders to reach out to the Lagos office for clarifications before making unfounded allegations.