Community Development Advocacy Foundation, CODAF, also known as Rural Community Empowerment Initiative, an NGO, has called on the Federal Government to halt proposed plans of opening up more mining fields.
CODAF made the call during a media parley to analyse the decision by the Federal Government to start mining for seven minerals such as coal, iron ore, bitumen, gold, limestone, lead-zinc and barite.
According to CODAF, the Federal Government has always been reactive rather than proactive to critical issues.
CODAF, an environmental advocacy NGO that seeks to bridge the communication gap between the grassroots and policymakers, noted that over time mining activities had resulted in erosion, sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, and the contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water by the chemicals discharged from mining processes.
Mr. Benin Richard, the Executive Director of CODAF, said: “These processes also have impacted the atmosphere through the emission of carbon, which affects the quality of human health and infrastructure.
“Meanwhile, mining activities in Nigeria have not complied with strict environmental impacts assessment and best environmental management standards to ensure that people’s lives and wellbeing are preserved and ensure that the mined area returns to its original state.
“Series of lead poisoning in Zamfara State, led to the deaths of at least 163 people between March and June 2010, including 111 children.
“This would have been an avoidable situation if only the government had the proper mechanisms and policies in place.
“Thus, the government and its various institutions should desist from their ‘no problem school of thought’ in their approach to everything and begin to consider the interest of the environment and the livelihood of the people.”
The group further called on the Federal Government to come up with the statistics of the revenue contributed to the economy by the mining sector for the purpose of accountability.
Also supporting the call for the Federal Government to halt the craving for the mining of more solid minerals was Titigbe Onyeka, the National Lead Volunteer for CODAF.
He pointed out that “efforts by successive governments to address the Niger Delta environmental and social problems for over six decades now and since the beginning of series of protest against environmental damage and loss of livelihoods, had not yielded positive results.
According to him, like oil exploration, going into mining will further expose Nigerians to another environmental crisis.
He noted that greenhouse-gas emissions, GHGs, of the coal mine and its product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time that the world is thinking of cutting down on GHG emissions to meet generally agreed climate targets.
His words: “We can’t risk putting Nigeria communities in jeopardy, especially now that the world is trying to be sustainable.
“There is an urgent need for the Federal Government to begin to look beyond mining and focus on sustainable livelihoods and income generation.”
Titigbe further stated that it will be hypocritical if the government opens up more mining sites rather than addressing the problem the mining sector has created over these years.
Also speaking, Mr. Ubrei-Joe, M. Mariere, members of CODAF’s board of directors, agreed that the Federal Government should put in place a system that would design a new policy framework for a post-COVID-19 economic recovery system that would not impact the environment, the health of the people and their sources of livelihoods negatively.
They urged the Federal Government to do a field visit to impacted communities and re-evaluate the impacts of mining on the environment and the host communities with adequate commitment to land reclamation and payment of compensation to impacted communities before talking about opening up new sites.