Nigeria: Communities and NGOs’ urges govt to intervene in preserving the environment against mining industry

Author: Paul Okah, Blue Print (Nigeria) , Published on: 4 September 2019

‘NGOs, communities task govt on mining industry’ 27 August 2019

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Nigerian communities have tasked government on the “exploitation” and environmental degradation experienced in communities across the country, as a result of activities in the mining industry in Nigeria. They stated this Monday in Abuja during a town hall conference of NGOs, communities, stakeholders and government representatives, including Environmental Rights Action (ERA), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Accountability Lab, NEITI, community representatives from Kogi, Gombe, Ebonyi and Plateau states. In her opening remarks, the Executive Director of Global Rights (Nigeria), Abiodun Baiyewu, said that the mining industry in Nigeria has produced both the good and bad for Nigerians, including loss of lives and property of Nigerians in host communities, without government doing anything positive to intervene in preserving the environment, especially water pollution.

…“We bleed resources and breed poverty in the country, as a result of mining activities. Communities have lost their waters and there are pockets of violence across the country, including the Shikira lead poisoning that led to the death of more than 28 people in Niger state in 2015. The wealth from this country prosper other nations. What can be done for the communities where these resources are gotten from? We are bound to have global water crisis in 2050, when our population is expected to double, but are we ready?” Also speaking, the Executive Director of ERA, Dr Godwin Ojo, said that many organisations in the mining industry are only after what they can make from host communities, regardless of the pains and sufferings they make people in the community to go through, even as he accused government of “unholy alliance in exploitation of the people.”

“There is an unholy alliance between government and prospectors; in order to maximize profit. Industries, prospectors, extractive sectors in the oil and gas, on mining coal, gold: the impacts are similar. They externalize production cost. They pass on the destruction or cost of production to the environment and the people, that is why they are able to make profit. They take advantage of weak environmental laws in Nigeria, because of poor governance issues, weak compliance and enforcement. “Their primary concern is profit maximisation, which is to the detriment of host communities. Mainstreaming human rights into the mining sector means there is primacy of community interest in the mining sector and this is why I recommend the primacy of local interest. The resources belong to the community and they should be the ones mining. Communities should be encouraged to form cooperatives and the incentives given to foreigners should be extended to the local people,” he said.

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