In a resolute move, President Bola Tinubu’s administration has committed to putting an end to illegal mining activities that have plagued resource-rich regions in Nigeria.
This announcement comes as a response to the threats posed by bandits who exploit these mining activities to fund insurgency and oppress local communities.
Tinubu issued this warning during the 2023 African Natural Resource and Energy Investment Summit held in Abuja on Tuesday. Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr. George Akume, Tinubu emphasised the gravity of the challenges faced by the sector and pledged to eliminate all illicit transactions within the industry.
He stated, “Dear investors, we are determined to create a conducive environment for legitimate businesses. We welcome you and will do everything in our power to assist law-abiding enterprises in our country. However, we will no longer tolerate criminal adventurers and their local collaborators who exploit our socio-economic environment to undermine our nation under the guise of business. Those caught will face the full force of our laws.
“Rest assured that the barriers hindering ease of doing business in this sector are being actively addressed by our administration. A new era has begun, and the status quo will no longer persist.
“Let it be known that those responsible for the current state of affairs are advised to reform, or they will be replaced. The penalties for these acts of economic sabotage are defined by the laws, and we will enforce them to the fullest extent. These are some of the reasons we have appointed Oladele Alake, a seasoned investigative journalist, political media strategist, and a man of unblemished integrity, to sanitise the sector and drive its transformation,” he added.
Tinubu further revealed that the Federal Executive Council had recently adopted a seven-point agenda to clean up and reposition the sector for sound business practices and global competitiveness.
The policies set to chart a new course in the sector include the establishment of a national solid minerals company, investment in big data, formalising artisanal miners into cooperatives, enhancing security measures, effective inter-ministerial and inter-governmental relations to address operational challenges and increased transparency in the licensing process.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake expressed the ministry’s commitment to fairly distributing the benefits of the nation’s resource wealth among its citizens while optimizing the use of natural resources.
He stated, “Our resources must become the engine of our prosperity and the well-being of our people. We must lay the foundation for a just transition that promotes inclusive growth and minimizes environmental impact. In Nigeria, we have witnessed the transformative potential of our solid minerals sector and the vast opportunities within it. We are committed to harnessing these resources effectively, efficiently, and sustainably to drive economic growth and create prosperity for our citizens.
“Our efforts have already yielded positive results, with increased exploration, investment, and responsible mining practices taking centre stage.”
Alake also emphasised Nigeria’s potential role in the global transition toward cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, calling for collaborative efforts to achieve this goal.
“We must work together to diversify our energy sources, promote renewable energy, and implement energy efficiency measures. At the core of this summit is the concept of a ‘Just Transition.’ This concept requires us to ensure that, as we shift toward more sustainable practices in natural resource development and energy production, no one is left behind.
“The just transition calls for us to address the social and economic challenges that may arise from moving away from traditional energy sources. We must invest in workforce retraining, create alternative employment opportunities, and support affected communities. Africa must adopt policies that provide a safety net for those who might be negatively impacted by this transition,” Alake concluded.