How we will stop $9bn annual loss to illegal mining – APC, PDP, NNPP
Three leading political parties participating in the February 25 general elections – All Progressives Congress (APC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), on Wednesday outlined measures they would take to tackle illegal mining if elected.
With a yearly loss of about $9 billion to illegal mining and smuggling of gold, according to the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparent Initiatives (NEITI), the parties agreed that illegal mining is a challenge that must be addressed for the country to effectively diversify its economy.
Representatives of the parties spoke on a programme titled, ‘Policy options for the next administration in Nigeria: Curtailing Illegal Mining in Nigeria’, jointly organized by CEDANAC Resources, and DAAR Communications Plc in Abuja.
At the event, the President of, the Geological Society of Nigeria, Prof. Olugbenga Okunola, said mining had been a major contributor to the nation’s economy but for the indigenisation policy of 1972.
According to him, most of the local companies that took over from the expatriates did not have the capacity and funding to operate on a large scale, a situation he said gave birth to illegal mining and smuggling.
“In Osun State alone, precisely Ilesa, there are about 50 locations where illegal or artisan mining is going on but we have only one company we can say operates on a medium scale level.
“If you look at the solid mineral revenue, it is barely contributing about 80 billion naira where we are supposed to be contributing about two to three billion dollars to the nation’s economy. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution of mining to the economy which is about 0.5 per cent is still low compared to five percent target by 2025 set by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD)”, he stated.
NNPP National Publicity Secretary, Agbo Major, in his argument, said Rabiu Kwankwaso, the standard bearer of the party would formalise the employment of illegal miners and issue licences to qualified firms, to shore up revenue for the country.
According to him, the NNPP administration would wield the big stick if entreaty and diplomacy fail to dissuade illegal miners from exploiting the government.
“The first thing we will be doing as NNPP is to look at those who are perpetrating this, what do they get from it? What do they really want? Why are we allowing them to tap it illegally? What does the government policy say? We have continued to hammer so much on the poverty level among the youth.
“If you go through this you will discover that they are the ones that are used in the mining sites. So, what we need to do is to formalise this appointment and the employment that they have that they are operating illegally.
“We will ensure that people and companies are properly profiled and given certificates in the mining industry and when that happens the youths that are available for them to use to mine illegally will now be absorbed into mainstream employment and that in a way, will help to solve the problem and further add to the profile of His Excellency Rabiu Kwankwaso, who is known for human capacity development.
“To streamline the sector, we will give certificates to those qualified to explore and by the time that is done, it will shore up revenue for the government and that will gradually shift our economy from oil-dependent status.
“It is only when persuasion fails because you will always have defiance, then the government will have to do its job for the interest of the country by wielding the big stick.”
Spokesman of the youth wing of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Aliyu Audu, assured Nigerians that if elected, the APC administration would tackle insecurity linked to mining.
Audu added that despite the presence of saboteurs, the present administration had raked in billions of naira through mining and other natural resources.
He added that the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu has shown seriousness in tackling issues bedevilling the mining sector with his (Tinubu) recent visit to miners in Nasarawa and Enugu State.
But his claim that only Tinubu had visited miners in Nasarawa and Enugu States, to fashion out way to tackle the problem, was rebuffed by the Spokesperson of the Atiku Okowa Presidential Campaign Council, Ehiedu Aniagwu.
Audu had said: “My presidential candidate is a thinker and doer. He is not a talker. He has met twice with the miners. He has gone to Nasarawa where we have the highest deposit of minerals across the country.
“He has been to Enugu where he met with the people with the promise of revitalising coal mining. The challenge of insecurity is a factor.
“So, he has met with them and assured them and he is asking for their cooperation. He is getting on the information he needs that his team will work on. He will deal with defaulters.
“Only our presidential candidate has met with miners. It shows quality. It shows intent. It shows his plans for Nigerians. My presidential candidate has been consistent when it comes to climate change.”
Aniagwu, however, maintained the ruling APC has not achieved anything tangible in the sector
He stated: “Aliyu said they have done so much. But I recall in 2016, the APC-led administration set up a committee to examine the 2007 Mining Act and that thing made it very clear that a whole lot of sections needed to be reviewed.
“In 2021, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo also made a reference for us to make such a reform. You will begin to wonder that more than 7 years after they have not been able to bring any reform.
“The idea of registering people who will just sit in Abuja and you care less about what they are doing, that is not going to happen.
“We must follow through to know what they are mining, the quantity, the on-takers. The APC candidate is not rh only one engaging with stakeholders. There are a whole lot of bigger processes and companies that are involved in mining.”
On what Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa would do if elected, the spokesman said: “Our presidential candidate and his running mate have made it clear that industrialisation of natural resources will be a priority in the administration.
“And in doing so, they recognise the provision of the Mineral Mining Act of 2007 particularly chapter 1, section 1 which states very clearly that the ownership is vested in the federal government.
“And that being the case, the federal government is in the position to do a lot of things in the implementation of the Act. He is going to collaborate with the States and he has also said that he will devolve power.
“So that in granting licenses and determining who ordinarily should be involved in mining and how such a product are to be marketed, that the state should be carried along.
“He is also going to bring in industrialisation such that you will be able to also process so that you will not just lose to crude oil. All that will be done in the Atiku/Okowa administration.
“The law is very clear on anybody who is not licenced and proceeds to begin to take what belongs to the federal government. Once you have the political will, I am such Atiku has it, we will begin to implement the 2007 Mining Act.”
Okunola who is also, the Head of the Geology Department, at the University of Ibadan, said though the present administration had contributed to the development of the sector, he lamented that about 90 per cent of activities in the sector is carried out by artisan miners.
“We have about 2500 locations where they are some kinds of mining in Nigeria and yet the total contribution of our revenue is still about 100 billion naira. This scenario has to change.
“We have to look at issues surrounding revenue leakages. The sector is still largely loose. We have to have a good governance structure in place and we need to increase or strengthen governance control over mining because what we have now, our mining sector is still largely uncontrolled and we must do something about that.”