By Michael Peters, The Sight News
Abuja: A Civil Society Group, Center for Leadership Strategy and Development (Center LSD) has called for the creation of markets at strategic border points across Nigeria in order to check incessant smuggling of Solid minerals out of the country.
This formed part of Policy recommendations by Center LSD in its Research Report on Solid Mineral Mining in Selected Communities in Ebonyi, Ekiti and Taraba States.
The group, which frowned at the abysmal contribution of the Solid Mineral sector to national economy, also identified the absence of a geographical data and non implementation of the Solid Mineral and Mining Act, as part of the main issues bedeviling the sector.
Center LSD traced the perennial challenge of revenue leakages in the sector to the lack of capacity or deliberate refusal of government to track the operations of middlemen and women who do their trades directly with mine workers without the knowledge of government officials at the federal, State, and local levels.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja on Friday on the Report, Center LSD Programs Director, Monday Osasah, acknowledged the Buhari administration’s commitment towards the reformation of the extractive sector, however stressed that the need for citizens to engage and interrogate the process is critical to forestalling the exuberances that usually characterize government reforms.
Osasah, who was represented by an official of the Center, Victoria Udo further highlighted that findings from the research shows that legislations excluded civil society and miners in the interaction process between government and the sector.
According to him “as constituted by existing laws, what is missing from the composition of the State Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee, which makes it possible for the federal government regulatory agencies to relate with governments at the States and local government levels as well as the mining communities, is the participation of the miners and civil society”.
While calling for enforcement of the Mineral Act, he disclosed that actors in the sector have failed to comply with the provisions that are assigned to protect the environment such as prevention of pollution of the environment and the reclamation and restoration of exploited lands, saying that many excavated lands can be seen littering around the communities.
The group through its programs director also recommended that a framework be developed for transparency and accountability in the reporting and disclosure by all extractive industry companies, of revenue due to or to be paid to the federal government.
“The Mines Environmental Compliance Department should be strengthened in order for it to monitor and enforce compliance of mining regulations and practices.
“The community development agreement must be negotiated with communities in a transparent manner to ensure inclusivity”, he said.
He also recommended that the Mineral Act should be reviewed to provide for protection of women and children from exploitation by all categories of miners.