Michael Olugbode in Abuja
The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr Ogbonnaya Orji, has called for the creation of a special squadron to ward off threat and insecurity at various mining sites in Nigeria and elsewhere in West Africa.
Orji spoke during his keynote address at the gathering of stakeholders from different mining communities in West Africa to deliberate and find solutions to the common challenges confronting mining activities in the region.
The event was organised by the International Non-governmental Organisation (INGO), Global Rights and Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA).
Orji, while noting that Africa is blessed with abundant mineral resources, ranging from gold and diamonds to oil and gas, added that the resources hold the promise of transformation, the potential to elevate the lives of the people, and to power the development of nations.
He however, expressed concern that the communities where the resources are exploited are often left vulnerable and continue to face several security challenges.
He said: “The challenges faced by these mining host communities need urgent resolutions. There is a need for collaboration with security agencies and mining host communities to help curb insecurity in the mining sector.
“It is also the responsibility of the government to ensure that the wealth derived from our minerals is utilised for the common good, and are equitably shared among our people, the environment is protected for generation to come and that the human rights of the people are well protected.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Dele Alake, who hailed the enthusiasm of the stakeholders for embracing the ideas and proposing many pathways to achieving the roadmap, said the Nigerian government will continue to ensure good business and security for mining host communities.
While commending the organisers for its continuous work in protecting and advocating for marginalised communities, the minister charged the stakeholders to be guided by the principles of transparency, accountability and shared responsibility.
Speaking at the conference, the Executive Director of Global Rights, Abiodun Baiyewu, said the conference was aimed at bringing together the host communities to deliberate and find solutions to the common challenges that they are confronted with as West Africans.
“It’s a platform for an open and inclusive dialogue where ideas, experiences and solutions are shared collectively.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the wealth of West Africa’s minerals benefits the many, rather than the few and that becomes a catalyst for peace, development, and progress,” she said.