The Senate on Tuesday summoned the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to deliver a brief on the ministry’s mining roadmap, and how it plans to protect residents of mining host communities.
Fayemi is expected to appear at plenary on a yet-to-be announced date.
The decision to summon the minister followed reports that only eight of 38 villages in Zamfara State affected by the aftermath of illegal mining in 2014, have been remedied by the federal government.
Over 400 children in the villages are said to be suffering varying effects ranging from blindness to neurological defects.
According to a motion sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos APC) and eight senators, several residents in the villages are unable to access effective medical treatment for the ailments and are suffering different forms of deformities.
Tinubu added that in communities that have been remedied, no alternative source of livelihood was provided for the artisanal miners, indicating that a repeat scenario is in the offing.
“Besides Zamfara, mining host communities in states like Kogi and Niger have also been affected by the negative effects of mining practices. Notes that Nigeria does not qualify as a mining state, the 2016 GDP breakdown shows the mining sector’s contribution to the nation’s GDP to be abysmal,” she said.
“Worried that even though mining is yet to make an economic impact, symptoms of the resource 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.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Magnus Abe (Rivers APC) warned that another Niger Delta situation would be created, if the issues are not properly handled.
“This is how the situation in the Niger Delta started and the communities paid for it, because there are no rules in the country that govern mining of minerals,” Abe said.
“The institutions are weak and ineffective and some time we have the institutions running over themselves doing the same thing and the communities suffer for it,” he added.
In another development, the Senate called on governments at all levels to vigorously pursued poverty eradication measures in Nigeria.
The Senate noted that with 67.1 per cent of Nigerians living below poverty level, the country remains in a precarious situation.
This followed a motion sponsored by Senator Ali Wakili (Bauchi APC) to commemorate the United Nations International Day for Eradication of Poverty.
Wakili called on community based organisations and the media to step up discourse and discussions on the scourge of poverty and its debasement to human dignity.
“Interesting to note that the achievement of a world free from poverty provides a path towards achieving peaceful and inclusive societies envisioned in goal 16 of the SDG, whose key target is to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision making at all levels,” Wakili said.
Presiding, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu said social safety nets should be provided in addition to redistribution of income through taxes.
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