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Dele Alake Exposes Links Between Powerful Figures and Illegal Mining, Accusing Them of Fueling Banditry

December 13, 2023








Dele Alake, minister of solid minerals development, says “powerful Nigerians” are behind illegal mining in the country.

Alake spoke on Tuesday when he appeared before the house of representatives committee on solid minerals to defend the ministry’s 2024 budget estimate.

The minister accused those behind illegal mining of sponsoring banditry. 

“One pernicious discovery that we have made is that a lot of these banditry, terrorism, and insecurity that we associate with this sector are actually sponsored by illegal miners,” Alake said. 

“These are not your artisanal miners. They are not the people who pick gold on the ground. These are heavy and powerful individuals in our country. And they are Nigerians. They are not foreigners.

“Yes, you can see foreigners as symptoms, but they are not the disease. Nigerians are the powers behind those foreigners that you see on the streets. We are identifying them and employing various strategies, both kinetic and non-kinetic.”

The minister said as part of his seven-point agenda, he gave an ultimatum to petty illegal miners to join cooperatives and be registered to be recognised by the government.

He said the essence of demanding the illegal miners to register with cooperatives and be formalised is to “do their businesses legitimately and earn a legitimate living”. 

“Because every Nigerian has a right to life and necessities and so if the government cannot provide these necessities, we cannot push them into the bush,” Alake said. 

Alake said when the illegal miners are registered, the government can identify them and derive the necessary royalties and taxes. 

The minister said the royalties and taxes were lost because the government could not be chasing individual miners all over the place.

He said over 50 cooperative societies have been formed since the policy was announced, adding that more people are still registering.

“We strive to legitimise them and make them responsible citizens of Nigeria,” Alake said.

2024 BUDGET 

Alake said the N24 billion allocated to the ministry by the budget office is grossly insufficient.

“In fact the figure we were given cannot even engage in one single item on our agenda. The entire budget is about N24 billion is a non-starter if we are to achieve the stated objective of this sector,” he said. 

The minister said N250 billion alone is required for the exploration of solid minerals.

He stressed that the ministry cannot give investors the power of exploration because they would shortchange the government.

“We need a lot of funding in exploration to generate geoscientific data. We cannot leave the business of exploration in the hands of the private sector,” he said.

“If we are to be serious about the economy diversification vision and policy of this government, we need nothing less than N250 billion for exploration alone. It is critical. I crave your support in our effort to actualize this particular measure.”

The minister sought the support of the committee for increased funding to meet the objectives of the ministry. 

“I seek your support to help us to inject substantial funds into the exploration so that we can return revenue in trillions,” he said.

“I stake my credibility on it. If we are given that amount of money, I can tell you the target that this sector will contribute to the GDP of this country will be outstanding. In a couple of years, it will dwarf what we are deriving from oil.” 

Suggesting ways to curb insecurity in the mining sector, Alake canvassed for the creation of mining corporations, and the establishment of mines police.

“So it is not just mine police that we are looking at. It is not just in mine alone. There are other sectors of the economy that is going to have specified police like the blue economy you can have the marine police,” he said.

“But in our case, the relevance is to further combat insecurity and ensure that the site where operators would engage in their activities would remain peaceful at all times.”

Alake said that host communities where mining takes place would be carried along, adding that when they are actively engaged there would be no friction and breakdown of law and order. 


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