Mining: Land Grab And Livelihood

The new scramble for Nigeria targeting primarily the solid mineral is apparent, and for emerging economy like ours that sees agriculture as a major job creation, there is the fundamental need to pay adequate attention to what this trend portends for our food security and livelihood. As the scramble for solid minerals intensifies, the multinational companies’ (MNCs) prospects, the environment they operate is often inhabited by host communities who make their own claims to the land, and in return fight against dispossession, relocation, environmental pollution, and human rights abuse.

Nigeria is likely to be the Africa’s hub for sold mineral scramble; the country’s mining sector has been identified in the Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 as one of the key drivers for economic growth. The National Bureau of Statistics 2017 report on the disaggregated Mining and Quarrying Data for 2016 shows Nigeria produced 43,495,423.12 tons of solid minerals in 2016, with Ogun State as the highest solid minerals producing state with 16,376,547.50 tons of solid minerals representing 37.65%. The Mining sector contributed about N400 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015. Mr. Kayode Fayemi, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, in an interview with This Day Newspaper projected that mining will add $27bn to Nigeria’s GDP by 2025.

However, in a broader perspective, Africa at the moment has become a target for solid minerals search by foreign mining companies. And, of the ten biggest mining deals in the last ten years, seven were in Africa. In addition, Brazil’s Vale has disclosed its plans to expend over $12billion in the next five years in Africa on mining business. And apart from Brazil, China is also investing heavily in African mines.

Experiences have shown, beyond revenue earning, mining operation has a dire consequence on host communities. For instance, investors take over community lands leading to a huge forceful eviction of the locals to make way for large-scale extraction. Sufficing examples are numerous, in Benue State, Mbayion community resistance to Dangote Cement Company taking over their land and polluting their water led to the killing of seven inhabitants in a clash between them and the soldiers.

 

Also, Premium Times investigation shows how Jigawa state government took over community land to make way for Chinese firm is threatening the livelihood of over 150,000 citizens. In the deal, 12,000 hectares of land spread across four local government areas Gagarawa, Taura, Suletankarkar and Garki were forcefully taken and handed over to a Chinese investor. In 2014, the state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, with the Lee Group to apportion land to the company to set up a sugarcane plantation for its Sugar Company. In this deal, the locals said, 22 farming villages and 27 Fulani hamlets were displaced. Besides the huge displacement, over three million goats, sheep and cattle were lost.

In Nasarawa state, Udege-Mbeki community, Udege Development Area, clashed with Kenyang Mining Company Limited, a Chinese firm for taken over their land and dam and the company refusal to implement the Community Development Agreement (CDA).

Having examined this trend, we thank the African Union (AU) for the African Mining Vision, an initiative that attempts to provide regulation on how extractive sector-mining must be managed in Africa. However, the mining vision does not seem to have addressed critical livelihood of the locals particularly the host community. While the policy remains imperative to the re-organization of mining economy in Africa, multinational companies in collaboration with the local elites continue to appropriate profits, while the locals remain poor and mining-related environmental disasters continue unabated.

In mining, Nigerian state just like other African states focuses mainly on extraction for export markets without considering the impact it has on the locals. Nigerian state must go beyond the African Mining Vision, and develop state policy that will ensure the primacy of local interests and livelihoods are crucial to the delivery of benefits. And we believe this is a key missing link the state policy should consider in filling the gaps in the African Mining Vision for the greater good of the nation.

Onuh Mary