Mohammed Munirat Nasir, Gusau
The Zamfara State Government says buying gold from artisanal miners is to curb the wave of banditry in the State and ‘not to desecrate the constitution’ of the country.
The State Commissioner for Environment, Mines and Solid Minerals, Dr Nurudeen Isah, stated this on Wednesday while briefing journalists in his office in Gusau.
‘We have never and have no intention to desecrate the constitution of Nigeria,’ he said.
Isah said the issue of gold is very topical bordering on the politics, economy and security of the State and the country at large.
‘The issue of gold mining and its associated matters which has dominated the media at a time and still being discussed as a point of controversy ought not to have arisen if not for the misunderstanding, misinformation or sheer mischief,’ he said.
Isah said the Governor’s address where he mentioned the extent of his government’s participation in the gold mining process was severely misunderstood.
‘In fact, we have every cause to say that the issue as reported in the media and the trailing reactions to the reports were quite unfortunate and highly misplaced,’ he said.
The Commissioner added that mining activities began to be pervasive in Zamfara State some ten years ago.
‘Illegal mining of solid minerals in Nigeria is very common and a source of concern to the Federal Government. It is a source of concern to Zamfara State Government as It also poses a great danger to the environment and to the health condition of the people,’ he said.
Isah said despite the frantic efforts of the State Government to further clarify this matter, many interested parties have developed blocked ears to the explanations made.
‘The latest, and indeed, more worrisome, is the position taken by the South-South governors where they challenged Governor Bello Matawalle premised on the same wrong notion that he claims to own the goldfields and control the mining of the mineral resources against the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘In fact, the major licences it offered are spread across the country with an interested company from the South-East owning the largest of mining Sector in the State with over 100 hectares of mining field,’ he said.
The Commissioner said the interest of the State Government is to participate like any other interested buyer to purchase this gold so that the state can also have a source of revenue boost to enable it to cater for the growing need of dispensing social services.
‘His Excellency, Governor Bello Mohammed wishes to reiterate his commitment to uphold the constitutional provision as it entails all mineral resources in his state just as he intends to legally and constitutionally participate in the activity for the benefit of his own people,’ he said.