Some state governors in Nigeria have been accused of being sponsors of illegal mining of solid mineral resources like zinc, lead, tantalite, columbite, laterite, among others in their states.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, and the chairman, Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, made the allegation on Friday.
During an interactive session with the senate committee, the minister said that the governors, whose names he did not mention, provide police to escort unlicensed foreign miners in their domains.
“You will find foreign nationals encouraged by our people. Without naming them, we have some state governments that are encouraging these (foreign) nationals that we are talking about. And that is why you see them with security (operatives).
“When they send them to go and do this, they need police. What do you expect a mining officer to do when the state government is backing this illegal mining?” Adegbite said.
Senator Al-Makura, a former governor of Nasarawa State, in his response agreed with the minister and called on all stakeholders to develop legal and structural measures to incorporate state governments’ participation in solid minerals development.
“Why are they (governors) giving support to illegal miners? Now, the simple response or answer to that is that they are helping illegal miners because they are illegal miners themselves.
“There is nowhere illegal mining can take place without the knowledge of the community; you cannot illegally mine mineral resources without the consent and the participation of the community.
“It then means that we must find ways, structurally and legally, to encourage state governments not to participate in illegal mining. That is only by carving a role for them. If you look at the law on mining, it is in the exclusive list. There is a need for us to come together – the Senate, the House of Representatives and other stakeholders in the industry to sit down and unbundle this to give every level of government some measure of participation without usurping the exclusive legislative rights.”
“I was a governor of Nasarawa State for eight years. In spite of all the noise about Nasarawa being the home of solid minerals, I do not think the state government generated up to N100m from solid minerals.
“We should also think about investing in the future. We cannot say because the solid minerals sector is capital-intensive, then we will leave it to foreign entrepreneurs. Why can’t the government create fund avenues and factories that could yield value chain rather than the artisanal miners selling the raw materials at ridiculously cheap rates?” he said.
Recall that a February 2019 report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative had listed the following: Zamfara, Plateau, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Niger as some of the states were illegal mining of resources such as gold, lead, zinc, tantalite, iron ore, tin, columbite and gemstones were being perpetrated.
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