By Christiana Ekpa
Senate yesterday summoned the Minister of Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi to appear before it in plenary to deliver a brief on its mining roadmap, implementation framework and how it intends to ensure protection of the resident of mining host communities.
The Upper Chamber equally urged the Minister to ensure adoption of safer mining methods by mining concerns .
Senate also mandated its committee on Environment and Solid Minerals to visit the affected communities to ascertain the level of damage done and report to the senate.
The resolution of the Senate followed a motion sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos West) and four other senators, on the “ Update on lead Poisoning in Zamfara State and the need to prevent further propagation of the resources curse theory”
The senate further directed its committee on Environment to investigate the activities of the Ministry of Environment as it affects the mining sector.
Debating on the motion, Senator Tinubu expressed worry that, even though mining is yet to make economic impact, symptoms of the resources curse have begun to be evident particularly in the communities blessed, or cursed if you will, with these natural resources and mineral ore.
She said the senate received with great distress, updates on lead poisoning which occurred in 36 villages and communities in Zamfara State.
“Observed that besides Zamfara, mining host communities in States like Kogi, Niger etc. have also been affected by the negative effects of mining practices;
“Notes that Nigeria does not qualify as a mining state. The 2016 Gross Domestic Product breakdown shows the mining sector’s contribution to the nation’s GDP to be abysmal;
“Further notes that the nation’s mining sector is almost redundant, that the Honourable Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Fayemi, is working to resuscitate the sector; and that the Ministry has approved a mining road
“Further worried that if we do nothing, we may be on our way to creating a ‘Niger delta’ situation except on a larger scale as nearly every state of the federation will be affected
“ Mindful that these environment abuses negate and breach the rights of citizens to life, dignity of person and other fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)”
In his contribution, senator Magnus Abe (Rivers Southeast) urged the senate to make use of the opportunity to address the situation before what happened in the Niger Delta repeat itself.
“This is how the situation in the Niger Delta started and the communities paid for it, because there are no roles in the country that governing mining of minerals.
“The institutions are weak and ineffective and some time we have the institutions running over themselves doing the same thing and the communities suffered for it.
“ we have use this opportunity to set it right before it get out of hand and before we have another Niger Delta situation in this country “
In his remarks, the deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, said the senate must pursue it mandate by putting thing right.
“We are aware that a lot of illegal mining is going on and we must set things right”