The Senate has summoned the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to brief it on Nigeria’s mining policy, implementation framework and protection.
The minister is also expected to brief the upper chamber on how the ministry intended to ensure protection of the residents of mining host communities against lead poisoning and other hazards.
This decision resulted from a motion by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC-Lagos) and four other senators.
The motion is on the “Update on Lead Poisoning in Zamfara and the need to prevent further propagation of the resources theory.”
She said that the Senate received with great distress, updates on lead poisoning which occurred in 36 villages and communities in Zamfara.
Her words: “It was observed that besides Zamfara, mining host communities in states like Kogi, and Niger have also been affected by the negative effects of mining practices.”
While she noted that Nigeria did not qualify as a mining state, she said that the 2016 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) breakdown showed the mining sector’s contribution to the nation’s GDP as abysmal.
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“It revealed that the nation’s mining sector is almost redundant, that the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr Fayemi, is working to resuscitate the sector, and that the ministry has approved a mining roadmap.”
In his contribution, Sen. Magnus Abe (APC-Rivers) urged the Senate to make use of the opportunity to address the situation before what happened in the Niger Delta repeated itself.
“This is how the situation in the Niger Delta started and the communities paid for it, because there are no laws in the country governing mining of minerals.
“The institutions are weak and ineffective and sometimes, we have the institutions running over themselves doing the same thing and the communities suffering for it.
“We have to use this opportunity to set it right before it gets out of hand and before we have another Niger Delta situation in this country,” Abe said.
In his remarks, the Deputy President of the Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at plenary, said that the Senate must pursue its mandate by putting things right.
“We are aware that a lot of illegal mining is going on and we must set things right,” he said.
After the debate, the lawmakers mandated the Committee on Environment and Solid Minerals to visit the affected communities to ascertain the level of damage done and report back.
The Senate further directed committee to investigate the activities of the Ministry of Environment as it affected the mining sector.
The upper chamber equally urged the minister to ensure adoption of safer mining methods by mining concerns.