…Why there’s production downturn in mining industry – Prof. Okunola
By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
THE Chief Spokesperson of the Labour Party Campaign Council, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, has said the party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, intends to intensify efforts to ensure that Nigerians, especially those in the states benefit directly from the mining activities in their communities.
He stated this as a guest on AIT’s discussion programme ‘Focus Nigeria’ with the theme “Ending Illegal Mining in Nigeria”.
Tanko also said the party’s presidential candidates will strengthen the Federal Government’s networking capabilities with the 36 states governments so as to enhance production activities in the mining space and turn the sector to a strong job creating hub for the country.
The Labour Party campaign spokesperson said Obi will provide leadership and sustainability, teamwork and capacity building and a synergy with the governors as impetus to enable legal mining to thrive even in the face of security threats.
Tanko said, “Section 1(1) of Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act (2007) empowers the Federal Government to exercise ownership and absolute control over all mineral resources in the country including the mining processes.
“However, what has happened in parts of the country is the refusal of some states governments to extend security control over the mineral resources in their domains because they consider them federal resources.
“But, in our own case, what we intend to do is to partner with the states and make them understand the importance of these mineral resources.
“These internal resources are part of what we are talking about when we say ‘From consumption to production’ at a point when it will be legally and institutionally synergised among the various tiers of government such that every section of the country will understand that there is a need for us to have continued production in our mining industry.”
He noted that an estimated 80% of mining activities in the Northwest region were carried out illegally on artisanal basis by the local population, and said that the party will ensure that the practical benefits of formalising their operations go directly to the workers.
“The Labour Party is owned, of course, by the Nigeria Labour Congress, and all associations under mining are also owners of the political party.
“So, it makes it easier for our presidential candidate to synergise accordingly with key stakeholders to ensure that Nigerians benefit.
“Our target is to ensure that the target go to the people, but within the law that has been provided hitherto. That is exactly what we intend to do, and our principal (Obi) is very interested in making sure that we leglise mining,” Tanko added.
Earlier, the President of Geological Society of Nigeria and Head of Geology Department, University of Ibadan, Prof. Gbenga Okunola, stated that mining was a significant driver of industrialization and development all over the world, adding that coal mining gave birth to the railway industry in Nigeria.
However, he regretted that the indigenization decree enacted by the military government in 1972 led to an inevitable downturn in production activities in the mining sector.
He said, “This caused large scale withdrawal of foreign investment in the industry and a downturn in production.
“With the exit of multinational companies and their expatriate professionals, the bulk of mining operations by the private sector rested on the shoulders of small-scale indigenous miners.
“These factors were largely responsible for production decline particularly in the metallic minerals starting in the late 1970s.”
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