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APC, PDP, NNPP Disagree over Solution to Mining Sector Crisis
Sunday Aborisade in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) have disagreed over measures to address the problems bedevilling the mining sector in Nigeria.
The political parties’ representatives offered different solutions to the crisis rocking the sector at a programme titled, ‘Policy options for the next administration in Nigeria: Curtailing Illegal Mining in Nigeria’, jointly organized by CEDANAC Resources and Daar Communications Plc.
The NNPP National Publicity Secretary, Agbo Major, said Rabiu Kwankwaso, the candidate of the party, would formalise the employment of illegal miners and issue licences to qualified firms to shore up revenue for the country.
Major said: “The NNPP administration would wield the big stick if entreaty and diplomacy fail to dissuade illegal miners from exploiting government.
“The first thing we will be doing as NNPP is to look at those who are perpetrating this, what do they get from it? What do they really want?
“Why are we allowing them to tap it illegally? What does the government policy say? We have continued to hammer so much on the poverty level among the youth.
“If you go through this, you will discover that they are the ones that are used in the mining sites. So, what we need to do is to formalise this appointment and employment that they have that they are operating illegally.
“We will ensure that people and companies are properly profiled and given certificates in the mining industry.
“When that happens, the youths that are available for them to use to mine illegally will now be absorbed into mainstream employment.
“That in a way, will help to solve the problem and further add to the profile of His Excellency Rabiu Kwankwaso, who is known for human capacity development.
“To streamline the sector, we will give certificates to those qualified to explore and by the time that is done, it will shore up revenue for the government and that will gradually shift our economy from its oil dependent status.
“It is only when persuasion fails because you will always have defiance, then government will have to do its job for the interest of country by wielding the big stick.”
The APC National Youth spokesperson of the Presidential Campaign Organisation, Aliyu Audu, said if elected, the APC administration would tackle insecurity linked to mining.
Audu added that the present administration had raked in billions of naira through mining and other natural resources.
He said: “My presidential candidate is a thinker and doer. He is not a talker. He has met twice with the miners. He has gone to Nasarawa where we have the highest deposit of minerals across the country.
“He has been to Enugu where he met with the people with the promise of revitalisating coal mining. The challenges of insecurity is a factor.
“So, he has met with them and assured them and he is asking for their cooperation.
“He is getting on the information he needs that his team will work on. He will deal with defaulters.
“Only our presidential candidate has met with miners. It shows quality. It shows intent. It shows his plans for Nigerians. My presidential candidate has been consistent when it comes to climate change.”
The spokesperson of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Council, Ehiedu Aniagwu, also explained what Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa would do if elected.
Hr said: “Our presidential candidate and his running mate have made it clear that industrialisation of natural resources will be a priority in the administration.
“And in doing so, they recognise the provision of the Mineral Mining Act of 2007 particularly chapter 1, section 1 which states it very clearly that the ownership is vested in the federal government.
“And that being the case, the federal government is in the position to do a lot of things in the implementation of the Act.
“He is going to collaborate with the states like he has also said that he will devolve power.
“So that in granting licences and determining who ordinarily should be involved in mining and how such a product are to be marketed, that the state should be carried along.
“He is also going to bring in industrialisation such that you will be able to also process so that you will not just lose crude oil. All that will be done in the Atiku/Okowa administration.
“The law is very clear on anybody who is not licensed and proceed to begin to take what belongs to the federal government. Once you have the political will, I am sure Atiku has it, we will begin to implement the 2007 Mining Act.”
The Head of Geology Department, University of Ibadan, Prof. Olugbenga Okunola, said Nigeria started mining over 150 years ago when the country had the southern and northern protectorates.
“We started mining gold in 1914. We started mining coal in 1916. And we started mining cassiterite and associate mineral by the Royal Niger Company in 1905.
“It has been a driving force for industrialisation and development in Nigeria. And let me say this, the core mining industry gave way for the railway.
“Mining had contributed over 12% in the GDP of Nigeria hitherto 1975. The mining industry has employed over 2,000 people.
“By the time the British were active in production, we had over 100 companies in production. So, Nigeria has been a mining country,” he added.