The Federal Government of Nigeria has been faulted over its seeming inability to regulate widespread illegal mining activities in the country adequately, urged to transfer regulatory responsibilities to states which are closer to communities where mining takes place.
The call is coming on the heels of a recent investigative report by Premium Times exposing that unauthorized mining activity in Angwan Kade, a village in Kokona Local Government Area of Nasarawa State in North-Central Nigeria, is endangering the lives of the residents and causing massive loss of revenue to the Federal Government.
Senior Programme Officer at the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), Vincent Dania, led the call for the Federal Government to show seriousness in curbing illegal mining during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja.
Dania, who alluded that illegal mining can be traced down to reasons why insecurity is on the rise in the country, lamented that people living in communities like Angwar Kade where illegal mining activities are taking place face health risks hence called on the Federal Ministry of Mine and Steel Development to go hard on illegal miners rather than treat them with kid gloves.
In finding a lasting solution to illegal mining in Nigeria, he urged the Federal Government to relinquish power to states on issuing mining licenses since the mining activities take place in their communities, as well as prosecute mining firms that fail to develop their host communities.
“Since mining is on the exclusive list, only the Federal Government can make laws concerning mining. They should make it part of the concurrent list so that the state government can have a say in awarding licenses to mining companies.
“The Federal Government should stop romancing with illegal miners. These people are criminals, destroying people’s livelihood; they should be handled like criminals.
“There is a provision in the mining act for community development agreements (CDAs), it should be enforced, and any company that comes into the community without CDA should be sued. It is very serious,” Dania stressed.
He lauded Premium Times and PRIMORG for bringing the unfortunate development to public knowledge and called on other organizations to add their voice to ensuring citizens are exposed more to the dangers of illegal mining in Nigeria.
Towing the same line, Premium Times reporter Nasir Ayitogo backed the call for regulation and licensing of mining sites to be moved from the exclusive list to the concurrent list so as to enable state governments management of the resources close to them.
His words: “Mining should be put under concurrent list, the state governments are more on the ground, they know what is happening, they know all the mining sites, and I’m sure they know those people that are engaged so when it is put on the concurrent list, they know they have jurisdiction over these people so they would be able to regulate the activities.”
Earlier, Ayitogo stated that the investigation revealed that the Angwar Kade community still lacks basic amenities despite exploring mineral deposits there, adding that there is no sign of government presence in the agricultural community. He also noted that Some foreign firms work with their Nigerian collaborators to run the mining sites.
Besides lamenting that the health of children in the community is endangered owing to the mining activities, he noted that the means of livelihood of Angwar Kade residents have been affected and urged the Federal Government to ensure they are knowledgeable about every mining site in the country.
Nigerians who called in to the programme, also alluded that illegal mining is fueled by the failure of the government to put in place adequate measures to curb the activities of illegal miners.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.