In order to achieve optimal growth of the Nigerian Mining Sector, the Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG), has strengthened its relationship with the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (MCO), a development that is expected to maximize the realisation of economic targets by the sector, as well as improve the quality of service delivery.
COMEG and MCO are broadening the scope of collaboration as they begin to identify more areas of possible collaboration.
The Registrar of COMEG, Prof Zacheus Opafunso who led the Management Team of the Council to the Mining Cadastre Office on a working visit on Wednesday commended the Management of MCO for administering policies aimed at triggering optimal growth of mining sector. He noted that MCO gives recognition to applications for mineral titles endorsed by COMEG-certified professionals, stating that the policy is exemplary, and gives impetus to the regulatory Council’s penchant for professionalism in the Nigerian extractive industry.
Opafunso emphasised the need for agencies to key into the quest for optimal growth of the sector through insistence on professionalism and regard for regulations in force. He explained that ‘the Nigerian mining sector cannot achieve optimal growth without proper regulation,’ stating that ‘COMEG cannot achieve its set goal of effective regulation without the cooperation of relevant institutions.’
‘We need to work with you in order to place COMEG in its right place, as the apex regulator of the Nigeria extractive industry,’ he said, adding that ‘if the MCO continues the exemplary policy of zero-tolerance for engagement of unqualified persons, and when other relevant stakeholder-institutions also take responsibility for optimal growth of the sector through proper regulation, COMEG will become stronger, and would be on equal footing with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN.’
He commended the MCO management for its penchant for laws, stating that it facilitates the realization of the presidential directive on growth and development of the mining sector.
While saying that the MCO should continue to ensure that companies and individuals which have business with the MCO are COMEG-certified, he was quick to add that the MCO was already doing that, stating that the Director General of the MCO is the President of Nigeria Mining and Geosciences Society, NMGS.
The Registrar, who suggested new areas of possible collaboration with the MCO said it is not enough for professionals to have COMEG stamp, saying that they should also be up-to-date in the payment of annual practicing fees prescribed by Council. He therefore appealed to the MCO to help raise funds for COMEG by insisting that professionals in MCO employ should not only be COMEG-registered, but should also be up-to-date in the payment of Annual Practicing Fees.
He further commended the MCO Management for making COMEG registration a pre-requisite for applicants seeking employment with the MCO, as well as making it a necessity for the promotion of staff, stating that the measure adds value to professional practice.
Suggesting additional areas of possible collaboration with the MCO, the Registrar appealed to the licensing Office to ‘support the COMEG Forum, a periodic quarterly discourse that highlights the role of the Council as a regulatory agency of the Nigerian Extractive Industry.’
He also encouraged the MCO to support the COMEG Assembly which used to be known as GEM Assembly, stating that it is an annual event that will bring stakeholders together to discuss challenges of the sector in order to proffer lasting solution.
Director General of the MCO, Engr Simon Nkom who is also the President of the Nigeria Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), thanked the COMEG Management for the visit and assured that the MCO will strengthen its commitment to professionalism in the mining and geosciences profession.
Engr Nkom, who demonstrated a high sense of hospitality to the COMEG Team explained that ‘Prof Zacheus Opafunso who is a Fellow of various professional bodies in the industry was my lecturer at Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA),’ during his post graduate pursuit at the institution.
‘Therefore, I consider this a very historic visit,’ the Director General said, adding that this is the first time a Registrar of COMEG and his Management team was visiting the MCO.
Engr Nkom noted that ‘the MCO will not undertake to issue licences without duly considering the requirement such as the involvement of a COMEG-Registered professional in the team,’ adding that the measure is a statutory provision that will not be violated.
Addressing the Registrar, Engr Nkom said: ‘COMEG has a great task to accomplish and we are with you in it, sir,’ stating that one of the tasks is the need to validate and review membership of COMEG while also vigorously pursuing the payment of annual practicing licences which has declined in the recent years.
According to the Director General, ‘The law provides that a COMEG-registered professional must be a financial member,’ adding that COMEG should update the list of qualified professionals and make same available to the MCO to facilitate total compliance at the MCO.
‘We will continue to adhere strictly to the laws governing licensing in the sector,’ he assured.
Further pledging his support for Prof Opafunso-led management of COMEG, Engr Nkom said: ‘I have served as Vice Chairman of COMEG. Now, I am President of the NMGS, I am naturally a member of your team and the MCO will work with you.’
‘Under your watch, we look forward to new growth and development of COMEG, and we share your vision for new activities such as ongoing collaboration with relevant authorities, training programs, enforcement of COMEG Certification among others,’ Engr Nkom added.
The Director, Registry, Mining Cadastre Office, Dr. (Mrs) S. L. Salau thanked COMEG Management team for visiting. She encouraged registrar to freely approach the MCO for any support, and assured that the leadership of the MCO operates an open door policy aimed at developing the sector. Dr. Salau advised the COMEG team to consider additional means of generating revenue needed to execute regulatory function, stating that its budgetary allocation may not be enough to meet the funding needs of regulation.