Empowering Miners and Mining Rennaissance in Nigeria

The Pledge

Nigeria (surface area: 923,800 sq. kilometers; population: 129.9 million) 1 is an immensely mineral rich country with every state liberally endowed. Who is not blessed in Nigeria? This seemingly innocuous question begs for an answer because not since the Europeans discovered the wealth of Africa has such greed driven wickedness been witnessed as has been visited on the people of the Niger Delta of Nigeria because of the discovery of crude oil in their lands and waters. Why these laser beams focus and fixation on a single resource? Is it because neither the government nor the people know that there are resources in every nook and cranny of the country, which if properly exploited are capable of generating as much revenue as crude oil?

We will attempt to remedy this situation by providing information, which the government is no longer willing to work upon or share with the populace. We will show that the answer to the first posed question is that there is no state or region of Nigeria that is not adequately blessed. For the continued existence of the country as we know it now, the government had better retrace its steps and begin to execute true justice in the land. Justice for the people includes aggressive development of moribund agrarian and tourism economies together with optimal mining and management of mineral resources. These can eliminate inordinate fixation on the Niger Delta crude oil. With resource control laws to boot, there can be no end to empowerment and prosperity – both for states and individual Nigerians.

This article also compares present derivation principle with a more progressive resource control principle. In it we shall also show that contrary to popular believe all states in the Nigeria federation are more than averagely rich with endowed natural resources, enough to set themselves up and prosper independent of the current system of federal government handouts.

Fig. 1: Map of Nigeria Distribution of Solid Minerals

Source: Ministry of Solid Minerals Development, Abuja2

Written with ongoing clamor for equity, fairness and justice in the Niger Delta region as focus point, it also makes a case for the National Assembly to speedily enact enabling legislation's that replace outmoded derivation principle with more pro-active resource control laws – see Fig. 2 for a graphical illustration of the Derivation history, 1953 – 2002.
Particularly, the Bill for Allocation of Revenue (Abolition of dichotomy in Revenue Sharing) Act 2002, despite being encumbered with some unacceptable provisions reached through unfair compromises, should not seek to continue with any derivation principle. It should, at least, provide for a better alternative in partial resource control.

Minimal exploitation and mismanagement of solid mineral resources alongside the neglect of other economic sectors, for example, agriculture and tourism, has remained a recurring bane against Nigeria since independence. Since no federal government has ever recorded any meaningful diversification program, sole focus on resources of the Niger Delta region has intensified, resulting in several disadvantages that manifest in various forms of ecological devastation, inequities, injustices and human rights abuse.

In present clamor to establish equity, fairness and justice for peoples in the Niger Delta region and peoples, it is necessary that there is close examination of all things that constitute legal, social and systemic bottlenecks. Until these bottlenecks are identified and permanently removed, conflicts shall aggravate because Niger Delta peoples and other citizens are increasingly becoming more knowledgeable of their human, economic and citizenship rights. Fast expending are days that practices of devious ethno-political agenda, governmental mismanagement, multi-national corporations or dictatorial leaders can prevent justice for the peoples of Niger Delta region and Nigerians in general. No matter what underhanded partisan compromises or mediocre laws are established by the National assembly, as long as there remains injustice in the Niger Delta region through the lack of resource control laws, there shall be no peace for Nigeria. This article identifies five major of several bottlenecks:

  1. Notorious Derivation Principles have become aberrations that continue to generate perpetual conflict between federal governments and states. Fig. 2 below is a graphical representation of all known principles. Each derivation principle founds upon capricious calculations or manipulations by federal governments that impose them – either for own gains or to satisfy ethnic majorities.
    Hardly noticed, the federal government has been unfair to states in the Niger Delta region where crude oil is explored and mostly accounted for. The federal government, in its inability to monitor and secure mining activities in other parts of the country, loose significant amount of minerals and revenues to illegal mining. As there are no revenues accruing from such illegal activities to the government, Niger Delta states – and few other states – are deprived of legitimate earnings even as their resources are being depleted and revenues shared between the federal government and all states. It is estimated that Nigeria looses over USD 0.5 billion to illegal mining of solid minerals per year. It is only fair that the negligent federal government, having failed to provide security or optimally mine resources, should pay fixed penalties to all deprived states.
    Solution: Legacy of confusion and conflicts, together with non-scientific methods of derivation and history of injustice from applications make abrogation of existing derivation principle imperative.
  2. Non-Diversification of the economy has become the bane against every government since crude oil was first struck at Oloibiri, Rivers State. Today, Nigeria is a one-commodity economy with sales of crude oil from the Niger Delta region accounting for over 95% of all national revenues. Other revenue generating resources and revenue generating sectors such as agriculture have been abandoned for extensive exploitation of the petroleum sector. It is inexcusable that in this 21st century and with countless human and technological capital available that a non-diversified economy remains the case. Even more inexcusable and unjust is that in prevalence of other untapped minerals, Nigeria continues with laws and socio-political principles that continue the bane at expense of economic and environmental justice for peoples of the Niger Delta.
    Solution: A carefully planned diversification program that doubles resource control rights with full-scale privatization of existing federal government controlled agencies and corporations.
  3. Retrogressive and repugnant laws that give the Federal government absolute rights over land and mineral resources in Nigeria:
    a. The Land Use Act of 1978 (1993)
    b. The Petroleum Act of 1969 (1991)
    c. The National Waterways Decree of 1997
    Solution: Every law relating to individual and property rights, current Bill for the Revenue Allocation (Abolition of onshore-offshore dichotomy) Act 2002 must be complimented by the repealing of retrogressive and repugnant laws that give the Federal government absolute rights over mineral resources in Nigeria.
  4. An overbearing federal government buckling under sheer weight of its mammoth bureaucracy such that it has become impossible to effectively implement and monitor policies, check corruption, abuses of office, hoarding, wasting of resources, etc. It is known that when the federal government plans for economic diversification and other economic programs, it does so in ways designed to favorably exploit various economic sectors for revenue gains and to consolidate authority, size and grip over them from Abuja. Nigerian government should be focused on regulating the economy rather than in the nitty-gritty of managing resources across the country.
    Solution: The (partial) transfer of ownership rights to states subject to incremental reviews for full resource control rights. In this connection, states make economic decisions regarding exploration, exploitation and sale of own resources within a favorable federal regulatory system while also paying necessary taxes to the federal government
  5. General ignorance concerning what minerals abound and what economic potentials such minerals have. Federal governments have ceaselessly woven Nigeria economic policies around crude oil, to the extent that national economic consciousness revolves around that single natural resource at the expense of non-exploitation of several others. In that general climate of ignorance, these happen: citizens do not put pressure on state legislators and leaders to secure resource control; the federal government is never held accountable for not fully exploiting resources; Machiavellian business executives3 – notoriously of Asian stock –with Nigerian accomplices engage in widespread illegal mining activities; competing ethno-political attention overly focused upon crude oil resource in both the Niger Delta land area and in the Gulf of Guinea.

    Solution: Nigerians should know (as we are attempting to provide information herein) of what minerals are locally available to them and that their inalienable rights to local resource control must not be compromised for short-term gains and temptations any devious derivation principle can offer.

  6. Nigeria Mineral Assets: Know What You and Your State Own
    For purposes that Nigerians, both leaders and citizens, become aware of minerals that abound in their regions and states and that they may now engage in working to exploit and manage properly, we have included Fig. 1 above

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