The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, have accused some State Governors of being behind the illegal mining of some of the country’s solid mineral resources.
The allegation was levelled on Friday by the Minister and Senator at an interactive session between the Ministry and the Senate on challenges facing the solid mineral sector.
Some of the solid minerals being illegally mined are gold, zinc, lead, tantalite, columbite and laterite.
Adegbite said: “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?”
Responding to what Adegbite said, Al-Makura, a former Governor of Nasarawa State, described such governors as “illegal miners.”
He said: “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.”
Al-Makura then called for investments in the mining sector to boost the GDP.
He said: “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 N100 million 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?”