In separate interviews, ten institutional stakeholders of the Nigerian mining sector have flagged-down the voiced proposal of the National Security Council (NSC) to ban mining activities, saying that the fact that the proposal was made public, has dire consequences for investor-confidence in the sector.
The stakeholders which include some former and current presidents of professional organizations and other leaders of the sector feared that a mining ban is not a solution to the security challenges of the country.
Francis Kadiri reports.
Professor Ibrahim Garba, Pioneer Director-General of the Mining Cadastre Office (MCO), said: “Muting the idea of a possible ban on mining, albeit publicly, is a bad call and adds to the very poor mining environment perception of Nigeria.” The Professor of Geology and former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, explained that “terrorists and bandits do not have interest or capability in mining, and in any case their huge sources of ransom money far surpass any likely mining revenue.”
Garba, who had served as Vice Chancellor of Kano State University of Science and Technology, emphasized the “need to understand the dynamics of the mining industry and distinguish between perception and reality before contemplating any such negative investor-sensitive action.”
Professor Silas Dada, Exploration Geologist and Professor of Applied Geology who was President of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), said: “Government is running from its responsibility of providing security for the nation,” adding that “by implication, the nation is losing enormous funds and wasting resources from unattractive tourism conditions despite the country’s very conducive climate.”
Dada, who is the pioneer Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Anchor University, expressed concern that the economic climate from insecurity to corruption drives the country’s potential best brains to other places.
He wondered: “What can we do right now when we have become so used to doing things wrongly for so long since independence!”
Engr. Janet Adeyemi, President, Women In Mining Nigeria (WIMIN) said: “Any ban on mining as a result of insecurity in the country will be most unfortunate, and a reflection of Nigeria’s unpreparedness as a nation to diversify her economy,” adding that it will “decelerate the efforts made in the last eight years, lower our perception index and discourage investors from investing in the sector.”
According to her, “it is noteworthy to suggest that there are smart digital innovations to tackle the influx of immigrants if the political will exits.”
Prof. B. S. Jatau, President, Nigerian Society of Mining Engineers (NSME) said: As a professional body, the NSME received the news with shock! We fault the resolution of the National Security Council at its meeting of Thursday 21st, July, 2022.
The fact that such an idea was conceived and broadcast has negative consequences for investor-confidence in the mining sector. It could lead to loss of revenue, and can render thousands of Nigerians, especially youths, jobless, and may further worsen the security situation of the country as a result of job losses.
Jatau, who is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Mining Engineers (NSME) and the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), warned that “care must be taken; else such an action would deal a deadly blow on the country’s ailing economy and discourage mining activities and aggravate our economic problems.”
According to the expert, such action will discourage Foreign Direct Investments, adding that “it could make fruitless, the efforts of Government to diversify the economy.”
He explained that “when legal mining is banned, illegal mining would take place,” adding that “no legal mines will engage itself with insurgency.”
“The situation in Zamfara State is a handy example: Government banned mining activities for about three years, yet insecurity has not been abated, rather, the insurgents took over the fields.”
“One wonders the relationship between mining activities and the recent jailbreak in Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja,” he said, adding that the organized mines and quarries in Nigeria should therefore not be banned in view of their contributions to the social and infrastructural development of the country.
“The NSME is of the view that government should put in place effective security architecture to checkmate the activities of insurgents, bandits and kidnappers. The activities of lawless groups have almost grounded legal mining activities in the country.”
He said government should sanction companies and individuals who buy minerals outside the mineral buying centers, adding that traditional rulers, chiefs, district and village heads in areas were solid minerals are mined should work with security agencies to ensure security in mining sites.
“The idea of mines police comes to mind. Any mining company that engages non-profile laborers as their artisanal miners or ad-hoc staff should be delisted, he advised adding that “there is need for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to employ mining and mineral engineers that will professionally identify smuggled minerals at the ports and borders using X-rays, metals and minerals detectors.” This, Prof. Jatau said, will go a long way to address security challenges and revenue losses.
Professor Benjamin Adewuyi, a former President of the Nigerian Metallurgical Society (NMS) said: “The areas where illegal mining is thriving are blessed with strategic mineral resources which are in high demand in world markets and buyers will not mind sponsoring banditry and terrorism,” adding that if government bans illegal mining, it should be followed with a plan to exploit the natural resources.
Adewuyi, who specializes in Steel and Alloys production, said “efforts of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development through former Minister, H.E. Kayode Fayemi, Hon. Bawa Bwari and the incumbent Hon Minister, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite should be complimented,” adding that the ministry organised series of stakeholders’ workshops to highlight Nigeria’s economic growth and industrial development through value addition.
Adewuyi, who is a Fellow of the NMGS, further said: “I was privileged to be one of the resource persons. There is need for States to engage in projects that will promote value addition to various minerals in their states. Government policies to guide and regulate the activities of operators in the sector should be enforced.”
Hon. Sani Shehu, Chairman, ECOWAS Federation of Chamber of Mines, said: Government erred by making such a statement about proposing a ban on mining activities. It is dangerous to have made that statement because nations across the world are aiming at developing alternative sources of revenue, and the mining sector is key to economic diversification.
At a point in time, mining activities was suspended in Zamfara State. The outcome of the suspension did not show that it was effective. In fact, the suspension led to increase in the level of banditry and terrorism in Zamfara state. So, the ban in Zamfara did not achieve the purpose for which it was placed.
The mineral of attraction to bandits is gold. Gold is just one of the hundreds of minerals in the country. It is erroneous to suppose that any ban on mining will help to secure the country.
No country in the world will do well to place a blanket ban on mining activities. It has never happened and it should not happen in Nigeria. Countries become innovative in the face of security challenges.
Central Africa engaged a private security outfit to address its security challenges, and the strategy helped. In Ghana, private mining companies cooperated with the government and were able to secure their mines.
Miners are also victims of bandits. Bandits also kill or kidnap workers of licensed miners.
7. Prof D. O. N. Obikwelu: t
8. Prof Aje Tokan, President, NIMMME, said:
9. Engr NSME
10. Miners association of Nigeia:
ECOWAS Federation of Chambers of Mines (EFCM), the Nigerian Metallurgical Society (NMS), and otehr institutional stakehoders As a follow-up to the unfortunate decision of the National Security Council to ban mining activities in the country, the Ministry said the decision is targeted at illegal miners. What this means is that government did not ban illegal mining in the past, it means they are just proposing to ban it. S I ask: What hace they been doing to address the situation all this while?