The recent ban on gold mining in Zamfara by the Federal Government is one of the best decisions taken by the Government in recent times. Declaring the state a no-fly zone afterward, was an icing on the cake.
We can’t continue this way- allowing organised criminals to keep plundering the country’s mineral resources, fueling crises, while innocent citizens pay the price with their lives, is in itself a sad indictment of the system.
State governments, particularly in conflct-ridden areas like some parts of today’s North, have clearly failed the people who elected them into office. Consequently, they have allowed criminals to exploit the vulnerability of the citizens, who can’t withstand the effects of the hostile environment in which they find themselves.
80% of mining in the Zamfara and other parts of the North is carried out illegally. Sadly, they are sponsored by foreign smugglers, who will do anything to keep themselves in the business, even if it means burning down the country.
Like drug lords, they operate under a powerful network with officials in the government as local mob bosses, and NGOs as alibi.
Oil companies operating in the Niger Delta and their local collaborators in government have done this in the past. Sponsored violence by oil companies has succeeded in dragging the region more than 50 years backwards.
It is a common practice in mining communities. Foreigners register Coys, hire criminals to register humanitarian bodies and secured backing from local collaborators within government circles.
Take for instance, in 2018, Maiduguri alone had at least 150 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in humanitarian work. Among these NGOs, more than half were operating without legal registration.
Who are they working for and to what purpose?
A situation where staff employed by several of these organisations have to secure rental housing contracts for five years and beyond, leaves one with the impression that they already knew that these crises would persist for as long as they want and so, they settled in.
This is one among many other ruse designed to create crises and open more corridors for smuggling and stealing from the people’s common patrimony.
This whole thing boils down to one thing- failed leadership.
Maurice Ogbonnaya’s peice, Illegal Mining Drives Nigeria’s Rural Nanditry And Local Conflicts, succinctly captures the underlying factors and motives by foreigners.
The piece highlights numerous fundamental social, institutional and structural problems in Nigeria’s governance system.
He posits that the crisis reveals the prevailing socio-economic problems in the region, especially the inadequate responses to poverty and poor service delivery by the state. The youth in particular have limited income-generating opportunities, and this is where the sponsors of illegal mining recruit their labour force.
And then, foreign corporations’ involvement in illegal mining depicts the weakness and failure of regulatory oversight and gross inadequacies in the enforcement of regulatory compliance by respective governmental agencies.
The ban, to me I will say came rather too, though it is not too late to correct the mistakes. The government must be sincere in its efforts to get rid of all dissident groups in the country. There must be delibrate efforts to develop rapid, responsive system to deal with criminals, both local and foreign. I do hope this will not end up as one of those gragra.
Emameh ES Gabriel is a Senior Correspondent with the Leadership Newspaper.