By: Joy Of or/Abuja
The Senate the Executive arm of government to develop a national legal framework in response to illegal artisanal mining in the country.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion, “Need to check illegal mining activities in the country” by Senator Alhaji Ya’u Sahabi, PDP Zamfara North and co-sponsored by 32 other lawmakers during the plenary.
Senayor Sahabi, while leading debate on the motion, noted that “Nigeria is rich in over 40 types of minerals, with the solid minerals sector proving to be a potential source of economic development and diversification of the economy.”
He also recalled that exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in the country dates back to 1902 with the production of tin, coal and a considerable tonnes of gold annually.
Though the lawmaker noted that the objective of the National Policy on Solid Minerals is to ensure orderly development of mineral resources for the country, he lamented that “illegal mining activities has continued to increase across the country, especially in Niger, Plateau, Zamfara, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo States, where the state of insecurity could be traced to these illegal mining sites.”
Sahabi, who quoted a 2018 online report that over two million people depend on illegal mining for their livelihood, observed that illegal activities of miners accounts for over 80% of mining in the country without any revenue accruals to the government.
He also lamented that solid minerals sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product, GDP of the country, has dwindled due to illegal mining.
This, the lawmaker pointed out shows that “while Nigeria gets less from the sector, other African countries enjoy significant contribution from the sector to their GDP.”
“For example, the sector contributes over 40% to the GDP of Botswana, and in Congo and South Africa, it is about 25% and 18% respectively,” he stressed.
Contributing, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, PDP Enugu West, said the best way to stop illegal mining in the country is to remove Item 39 from the schedule of the Constitution which gives power of control of solid minerals on the federal government and given to states.
The Srnator who alleged that some states are involved in activities of illegal miners, advised that 30% derivation should be given to states with high deposits of mineral resources like Zamfara.
In their contributions, Senators Aba Moro, PDP Benue South, and Adamu Aliero, APC Kebbi Central, lamented that the leakages in the solid minerals sector have not only been affecting revenue generation, but environmental hazards to the people.
They noted that the sector, if given adequate attention by the government, could generate huge revenues and job opportunities that would in turn help in ensuring peace in the country.
It also stressed the need for the government to further clean up the affected areas of the lead poisoning in Zamfara State as well as rehabilitate the victims of the ugly incident and environmental degradation in the state.