A non governmental organisation, Global Rights, and the Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities, have tasked government on social safeguards, environmental and socioeconomic sustainability of Nigeria’s mining host communities, decrying the “exploitation” and environmental degradation experienced in communities across the country.
They made the demand in a communiqué issued Friday in Abuja at the end of a two-day inaugural summit, which had in attendance representatives of mining host communities from the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, including Nassarawa, Osun, Taraba, Niger, Kogi, Zamfara, Gombe, Ogun, Ebonyi and Plateau states.
Addressing the media at the event, the Executive Director of Global Rights (Nigeria), Abiodun Baiyewu, said that the federation should hold government accountable for effects of mining activities in their communities.
She said: “This event is basically the inauguration of the Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities
so that the communities can by themselves begin to advocate their issues directly with government and other stakeholders. Many of them lack the capacity to do what they want to.
“Therefore, we want to ensure a joint effort in order for them to take a hold of themselves. However, government can intervene in the issues affecting the communities. In fact, the job of the federation is to hold government accountable for what they should do for these communities. We hope they will take forward this laudable project.”
Also speaking, the Executive Director of Neighbourhood Environment Watch Foundation (NEWF), Dr Okezie Kelechukwu, said that mining companies take advantage of the ignorance of the host communities to exploit them, even as he implored government to intervene.
“The issue of mining is of global and national concern because even government has started talking about post petroleum era. However, we realised that mining industries take advantage of the ignorance of host communities to exploit them. In fact, the states where mining is going on are often impoverished, despite the abundant resources.
“Their rights are infringed upon and their lands degraded by corporate and artisanal miners. Therefore, this summit will build their capacity so that they can develop using the resources God endowed them with. Government should ensure that host communities are encouraged, because it is from them that resources for national development are gotten,” he said.