Abuja, Nigeria: Nigeria’s Solid Minerals Minister, Dele Alake, has leveled serious accusations against “powerful Nigerians” for fueling illegal mining and contributing to the country’s security challenges. Testifying before a parliamentary committee, Alake painted a stark picture of a sector plagued by criminal activity and demanding urgent reform.
Powerful Nigerians Behind the Scenes:
Alake didn’t name names, but his assertion that “Nigerians are those powerful people behind (illegal miners)” resonates with concerns about high-level corruption and vested interests hindering the development of the solid minerals industry. He vowed to identify and expose these figures using “both kinetic and non-kinetic means,” hinting at a multi-pronged approach combining law enforcement and potentially intelligence gathering.
Beyond Banditry: Nigerian Sponsors:
While acknowledging the possible foreign involvement in banditry, Alake emphasized that the financial backing for these activities comes from within Nigeria. This claim adds another layer of complexity to the security situation and raises questions about the motivations and networks driving violence in mining areas.
Urgent Need for Reform and Transparency:
To unlock the true potential of the sector, Alake called for a more formal structure modeled after the newly established Nigeria National Petroleum Company Ltd. He envisioned a private sector-driven entity with government participation, aiming to attract multinational companies and boost revenue generation. This vision, however, raises concerns about potential pitfalls, such as ensuring transparency and accountability within the new structure.
Vast Untapped Resources and Ambitious Goals:
Nigeria boasts an estimated $700 billion in mineral deposits, according to Alake. However, institutional bottlenecks have hampered the commercial exploitation of these resources. He urged the committee to support his ministry’s ambitious 7-point agenda, promising to unlock trillions in revenue for the country if adequately funded.