Women miners complain of exclusion from N5bn intervention loan

Artisanal women miners

Women in Mining Nigeria (WIMIN), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has alleged that no female artisanal or small scale miners benefited from the N5 billion mining intervention loan.

President of WIMIN, Janet Adeyemi, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja.

She complained that the conditionality attached to the loan by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, and the Bank of Industry (BoI), were too stringent for female miners to access.

NAN recalls that in 2017, both the Ministry and BoI had signed an agreement to contribute N2.5 billion each, totalling N5billion as intervention fund for artisanal miners.

Governor Kayode Fayemi, the then Minister, who had signed the agreement with officials of BoI, had urged flexible conditions if the fund was actually meant for artisanal miners.

Adeyemi said: “We have tried several times to access the loan but to no avail, we have members who are sufficiently qualified but they were not given because their collateral (houses) was not in the cities.

“One of our members who has her collateral in Benin City, Edo State was denied the loan.

“They look for different excuses to prevent our members from accessing the fund, even our male counterparts also complained of the same problem.

“Bureaucracy in Nigeria is too much. I understand the risk associated with the mining sector but there are things that should be worked out.”

She said the American government provided some grants to business owners to help their businesses, adding that “The Federal Government can do the same and monitor the fund.”

In view of the stringent conditions, she argued that “If we continue this way, small scale miners that dominate the sector will continue to remain on the same spot without making headway.”

She noted that without financial inclusion, women in mining will continue to lag behind in accessing the funds due to the stringent conditions and collateral problems.

Bureaucracy in Nigeria is too much. I understand the risk associated with the mining sector but there are things that should be worked out.

NAN also recalls that the incumbent Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, said the N5billion was in the custody of BoI to be disbursed to miners that meet the criteria.

Adegbite said from 2017 till date, the Ministry’s N2.5billion contribution with BoI had generated N1billion interests, making it N3.5billion.

“But more than N300million had been disbursed from the fund to some miners,” noting that the purpose of the fund is not to generate interest for the government but to develop the sector.

He said the loan criteria had been relaxed, adding that artisanal miners only needed a surety, who should be an officer from grade level 14 and above.

NAN also reports that the loan is to be made available at a single-digit interest rate of 5%.

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