A Non-Governmental Organisation, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (ACLSD), has raised the alarm that illegal miners have hijacked the mining sector, urging the federal government to prevail on the ugly development to sanitise the sector.
The NGO noted that illegal miners are constituting serious impediments to the fight against insecurity and contributing immensely to the environmental hazards across the nation.
The NGO’s Executive Director, Mr. Monday Osasa, said these in Ado Ekiti, on Wednesday, during a programme tagged : ‘Ekiti State Stakeholders’ Interface on Gender and Natural Resources Management’.
Osasa said the interface, organised by the Centre in partnership with the Ford Foundation, was designed to strengthen the extractive industry, by creating opportunities for women in the sector, saying, political, economical and cultural barriers are slimming their access to opportunities in the business.
He said: “When the government is planning for security, it must plan for how to deal with the menace of illegal miners, because they too could scare people from mining business.
“Illegal miners are posing security and environmental threats to our communities. They are sabotaging our economy, thereby making both government and the host communities lose the gains they are to derive from the industry.”
On how best to empower women with financial muscle to fund the highly capital intensive investment in the sector, Osasa said the Public Private Partnership initiative in the industry has broken the barriers for female gender to have access to money for lifetime investment in the sector.
“Apart from the fact that private financial institutions are financing businesses in the sector, the FG has rolled out funds and had created warehouses across the country and such opportunity should be latched upon by our women, because they can easily access money through tenders”, he added.
In her lecture on ‘Gender and Extractive Sector’, a resource person,Mrs Betty Ekanem, regretted that there was gender inequality that needed to be bridged in the mining sector, to maintain balancing in the extractive industry management.
“Men have more access to opportunities and benefits in this sector because of economic, cultural, political and social restrictions. Time has come for us to change our perception, so that we can encourage women to participate in mining business.
“Some believed that they were not strong enough to do some of the jobs there, this was a mere assumption. But if we create enabling environment and support them with economic and political wills, they will be encouraged to make headways in the sector”.
Also, a first class monarch and Ajero of Ijero Ekiti, Ijero Local Government area of Ekiti State, Oba Joseph Adewole, said the preponderance of illegal mining around his community has degraded the environment and constituting security hazard to his people.
“My kingdom is where mining is taking place in Ekiti. We have a lot of strangers coming in, but they don’t have enough and appropriate equipment to do the mining. They dug the land anyhow and our land is degraded and destroyed. No farming can be done, no building can be constructed in those mining sites again”.