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 threats and insecurity at various mining sites in Nigeria and West Africa.
In 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, which was organised by the international non-governmental organisation (INGO), Global Rights and Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA), Orji said there was need for the creation of a special squadron for the mining sector to fight insecurity and other issues affecting the mining district.
Orji, while noting that Africa is blessed with abundant mineral resources, ranging from gold and diamonds to oil and gas, added: “These resources hold the promise of transformation, the potential to elevate the lives of our people, and to power the development of our nations.”
He, however, expressed concern that the communities where these resources are gotten from are often left vulnerable and continue to face several security challenges.
The executive secretary 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 is equitably shared among our people; the environment is protected for generations 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 Nigeria Government shall continue to ensure good business and security for mining host communities by ensuring policy consistency and adequate security.
While commending Global Rights for 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.
The group, which organised the gathering, expressed worry over the growing challenges facing mining host communities in West Africa, insisting that the troubled communities need to come together, deliberate and find solutions to the common challenges that they are confronted with.
Global Rights in conjunction with the Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) has gathered the stakeholders in Abuja for the ‘2023 West African Mining Host Communities’ called INDABA.
The West African Mining Host Communities (INDABA) is a Natural Resource Governance Summit that provides a critical platform for mining host communities in West Africa to engage and have critical conversations on strengthening safeguards for the sustainability of mining host communities in the sub-region.
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.
According to him, “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 many, rather than the few and that that becomes a catalyst for peace, development, and progress.”