Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), has urged stakeholders of the mining and oil exploration industry to pay attention to the health and safety of people and environment where mining and crude exploration take place.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr Waziri Adio, made the call while speaking during the launch of two of the agency’s periodical reports titled: ‘Impact of Mining on Women, Youths and Others in Selected Communities in Nigeria’ and ‘Perception of the Impact of 13 per cent Oil Derivation Allocation’.
Adio noted that taxes and royalties must not be elevated at the expense of vulnerable groups in areas where extractive activities take place.
“When we talk about resource extraction and governance, we concentrate too much on profits to companies and payments to government. While these are important, we do not focus enough on the people and the planet. Our resource extraction has both positive and negative impact on people and planet.
“There are a lot of benefits that come from mining, but it can also pose a lot of costs on immediate communities. We need to maximise the opportunities and minimise the harm to the environment and to the people. These are issues that people do not focus enough on, he said”
The NEITI boss pointed the problem of the sector to be systematic engagement of stakeholders for wholesome implementation and not a lack of comprehensive reports or analysis.
“The audit reports are very important and come with many recommendations and to make progress on those recommendations, we believe that we should take a different approach.
“We need to generate evidence, focus attention on particular issues and that’s why since 2016, we have published 18 quarterly reviews.
Development expert and current Chief of Staff to the Deputy Senate President, Dr Otive Igbuzor, in his keynote address tagged “Resource Curse, Enlightened Leadership and Pressure from Below”, stressed that until there’s a paradigm shift in the way the state relates with people where extractive activities take place, inequalities will continue to exist.
He said: “It is well known that the rise and fall of Nigeria is tied to the extractive sector. Good management from earnings from the extractive sector has the potential to put Nigeria on the path of growth and development.
At the same time, poor management has the potential to destroy Nigeria through corruption, poverty, conflict and underdevelopment in what a social scientist described as the resource curse.”
Igbuzor noted that although Nigeria ranks 12th in the world for crude oil production and 1st in Africa, it also has the worst development indicators in the world and holds the largest number of poor people in the world.
“Poverty is particularly extreme in oil producing areas of the Niger Delta. Studies have shown that poverty rate in oil-bearing communities is higher than in areas without oil in the Niger Delta.
“Oil exploration and production has destroyed the environment and livelihood of the Niger Delta people without creating employment,” he lamented.
The development expert explained that only an enlightened leadership and more pressure from below the wrung of the society can cancel the inequality in the society.
President Women in Mining (WIM – Nigeria), Hon Mrs Janet Adeyemi called for transformation in the mining sector in terms of financing, mechanization, capacity building, smart technology, policies and laws etc.
She also advocated for intensified gender auditing and support from government and donor agencies to NGO’s in the sensitization and empowerment of women, children and youths in affected communities.
The Regional Director, Ford Foundation, Mr Innocent Chukwuma, opined that Nigeria gets a lot of revenue from the resources, but the people get “nightmares”, rather than the benefits of the resources.
He described the current arrangement as disproportionate, saying that the proceeds have not really benefited the country.
The Executive Director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Mrs Emem Okon stated that for communities to optimally benefit from the 13% Oil Derivation Fund, there is need for sensitisation and active participation of communities concerned.
“We have to change from top down approach to bottom up approach to ensure adequate inclusion. There is need to create community development plans, this makes it easy for communities to participate in the monitoring and maintenance of projects.”